Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery

II. The Day of Surgery

What to Expect Throughout

Your hospital stay will progress something like this:

Pre-Op

  1. Arrive at the hospital at the appointed time.
  2. Complete the admission process.
  3. Have final pre-surgery assessment of vital signs and general health.
  4. Remove all personal belongings – dentures, hearing aids, hairpins, wigs, jewelry, glasses, contact lenses, nail polish, all underwear – and leave them with your family or friends during surgery. You will be dressed in a hospital gown and nothing else.
  5. There will be several checks to make sure the correct joint is being replaced: your surgeon will review your X-ray and mark the area to be operated on; nursing staff will check the consent form you signed to make sure it agrees with the procedure on the operating room list.
  6. Final meeting with anesthesiologist and operating room nurse.
  7. Start IV (intravenous) catheter for administration of fluids and antibiotics.
  8. Transportation to the operating room.

In Surgery

Many people will be with you in the operating room during your one to three-hour surgery, including:

  • Orthopaedic surgeon(s) – your doctor(s) who will perform surgery.
  • Anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist – the doctor or nurse who gives you anesthesia.
  • Scrub nurse – the nurse who hands the doctors the tools they need during surgery.
  • Circulating nurse – a nurse who brings things to the surgical team.

Your surgeon and the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will help you choose the best anesthesia for your situation. No matter what type of anesthesia you have, be assured you will not feel the surgery. Options include:

  • General Anesthesia – You are put to sleep. Minor complications such as nausea and vomiting are common, but can usually be controlled and settled within 1-2 days.
  • Epidural – You are numbed from the waist down with medicine injected into your back. (This is also used for women giving birth.)
  • Spinal – Much like the epidural, you are numbed from the waist down with medicine injected into your back.

You may have any of the following inserted:

  • An Intravenous Tube (IV) – This is placed in your arm and used to replace fluids lost during surgery, administer pain medicine, or deliver antibiotics and other medications.
  • A Catheter Tube – This may be placed in your bladder to help your healthcare delivery team keep up with your fluid intake and output. It is most often removed the day after surgery.
  • A Drain Tube – This may be inserted in your bandage site to help reduce blood and fluid buildup at the incision.

Elastic stockings will be put on your legs to help the blood flow. You may also have compression foot pumps wrapped around your feet and connected to a machine that blows them up with air to promote blood flow and decrease the possibility of blood clots.