Outpatient vs Inpatient Total Knee Replacement Surgery (TKR)

man experiencing knee pain prior to surgery

How Your Orthopedic Surgeon Determines Which Knee Surgery is Right for You

Total knee replacement surgery (TKR, for short; aka total knee arthroplasty) is defined as the surgical procedure where parts of the knee are replaced by prosthetics to regain functionality of the joint. Recent statistics show that nearly 800,000 TKR surgeries are performed per year.

There are many reasons why a patient may require knee surgery. For instance, a patient may need to get TKR due to arthritis or because they continue to experience pain in the joint after all other treatment methods (weight loss, injections, physical therapy) have failed to work. Sometimes advanced orthopedics is required for certain patients.

It’s important to note that total knee replacement surgery is typically reserved as a final option for those who are experiencing joint issues. That’s because the replacement parts that are used will eventually break down over time. Additionally, the surgery has the potential to keep a patient off their feet for a significant amount of time while they recover. This brings us to our main topic: what is the difference between outpatient versus inpatient total knee replacement surgery?

Inpatient Knee Surgery

As the name implies, inpatient total knee replacement surgery means that the patient will remain in the hospital or healthcare facility while they recover. Most of that can be attributed to how the TKR surgery is performed; the surgery itself requires a large incision directly over the knee to give the orthopedic surgeon the appropriate amount of access to the joint.

Once the incision is closed and surgery has concluded, patients can expect to be on bedrest for anywhere between three and five days. After that, they will be discharged and allowed to go home. During their recovery period, patients will rely on a cane or walker for up to the next three months.

Outpatient Knee Surgery

Outpatient knee replacement surgery (aka arthroscopic knee surgery, same-day knee replacement surgery, or rapid recovery knee replacement surgery) means that the patient will be allowed to go home the same day their orthopedic surgeon performs their procedure. Once again, much of this has to do with how the surgery itself is performed.

Rather than using a large incision as performed with inpatient TKR, the orthopedic surgeon will use a smaller incision on the side of the knee. This allows the surgeon to get the access to the joint that they need without fully compromising their patient’s mobility, as seen with incisions made directly over the knee. During arthroscopic surgery, a pinhole-sized camera and small surgical tools are used to navigate and operate on the knee.

Being able to perform outpatient TKR is always preferred to inpatient TKR. The benefits of inpatient total knee replacement surgery include a quicker recovery time and return to normal activities, a much lower rate of infection, and being able to comfortably recover at home.

Of course, a patient’s recovery won’t be totally unsupervised when they get home. Their orthopedic surgeon will review the recovery plan with them and any applicable family member that may be taking care of them. Pain medications may also be prescribed to get the patient through the first leg of recovery when discomfort is at its height.

How Do I Know Which Knee Surgery I’m a Candidate For?

Patients who are candidates for TKR surgery always want to know as soon as possible if their surgery will be inpatient or outpatient. The truth of the matter is that every patient is different, and so that decision must be made on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, your orthopedic surgeon wants what’s best for you, which means they’ll only defer to inpatient TKR if they believe that’s the only way to get your joint back to 100% mobility with no pain symptoms.

Contact Mid-America Orthopedics in Wichita Today to Make Your Appointment

If you happen to be one of the thousands that are suffering from knee or joint pain, you don’t need to suffer any longer. The professional and experienced team of orthopedic doctors and surgeons here at Mid-America Orthopedics can help you reclaim your quality of life.

We have decades of combined experience in examining, diagnosing, and treating the countless orthopedic issues and injuries Wichita residents face. In addition to performing advanced orthopedics and arthroscopic surgery, we also provide athletic training, sports medicine, physical therapy, and other healthcare services meant to treat joint pain and mobility issues.

Set up an appointment with the experienced team at Mid-America Orthopedics Wichita today. You can email us directly using the contact form on our website or call us at (316) 630-9300.