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April 6, 2016 - TCO

10 FAQs About Joint Surgery – Before Surgery

  1. Is joint replacement the best option for me now, or should I wait?

    You probably have been told this before but you will know when it is time to have your joint replaced. If you can live with your joint the way it is, then you do. If you cannot live with your joint the way it is, then it is time to have surgery. Most people look back and wished they would have had surgery sooner, since it dramatically improves your life when your joint doesn’t hurt.

  2. What are the risks or complications of joint replacement surgery?

    The complication rate following joint replacement surgery is very low. Serious complications, such as joint infection, occur in less than 2% of patients. Nevertheless, as with any major surgical procedure, patients who undergo total joint replacement are at risk for certain complications – many of which can be successfully avoided and/or treated.

    Possible complications include:

    • Infection: Infection may occur in the wound or within the area around the new joint. It can occur in the hospital, after the patient returns home, or years later. Prior to surgery, during surgery, and following surgery, all joint replacement patients receive antibiotics to help prevent infection.
    • Blood Clots: Blood clots can result from several factors, including the patient’s decreased mobility following surgery, which slows the movement of the blood. There are a number of ways to reduce the possibility of blood clots, including:
      • Blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) – Dr. O’Neill uses Lovenox while you are in the hospital and aspirin when you are discharged.
      • Elastic support stockings that improve blood circulation in the legs.
      • Plastic boots that inflate with air to promote blood flow in the legs.
      • Elevating the feet and legs to keep blood from pooling.
      • Walking hourly.
    • Lung Congestion: Pneumonia is always a risk following major surgery. To help keep the lungs clear of congestion, patients are assigned a series of deep breathing exercises.
    • Nerve Problems: With any operation there is always a chance of nerve problems. This is exceedingly rare with total joint surgery.
    • Pain: It is possible that having a joint replacement will not resolve all of your pain. Most patients have significant pain relief following their surgery.
  3. Is joint replacement covered by my health insurance?

    Joint replacement surgery is a medically necessary surgery and is covered by all insurance plans. You will have to check with your insurance plan if Dr. O’Neill and the hospitals he operates are in network or out of network. The billing office at Twin Cities Orthopedics would be happy to help with any questions you have regarding insurance coverage or your bill. You can contact them at: (952) 512-5625.

  4. After the procedure, will I see you or my regular doctor for follow-up care?

    After surgery you will follow-up with Dr. O’Neill for routine checks on your new joint. You should also follow-up with your primary care physician after surgery.

  5. How many of these procedures have you performed?

    Dr. O’Neill does about 6 joint replacements each week which amounts to more than 250 per year.

  6. How long do joint replacements last?

    80% of joint replacements last 20 years and 70% last 30 years. After this the failure rate is about 1% each year.

  7. What hospitals do you operate at?

    Dr. O’Neill operates at St. Francis Hospital in Shakopee, Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, and Fairview Ridges Hospital in Burnsville. Some patients may qualify to have their joint replacement at the Twin Cities Outpatient Surgery Center in Edina based on their insurance and medical history. Read more about the ExCEL Program.

  8. How long does the surgery take?

    Total joint surgery typically takes 90 minutes to 2 hours.

  9. Will I need physical therapy after surgery?

    Knee replacement patients will do aggressive physical therapy for several weeks after their surgery. However, you will still be doing home exercises daily for your knee. The best exercise you can do for your knee replacement is to ride an exercise bike after surgery. Hip replacement patients will not need to see a physical therapist after surgery. The best exercise hip replacement patients can do after surgery is walking.

  10. What medication should I stop prior to surgery?

    Any medication that thins the blood will need to be stopped prior to surgery, this includes over-the-counter and prescribed medications, as well as supplements. These include but are not limited to: aspirin, ibuprofen, aleve, plavix, Coumadin.