Can joint replacement be an outpatient surgery? Is it safe?

Answer From Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, M.D., Ph.D.

Yes. Advances in surgical techniques, implants and pain control have made outpatient joint replacement possible.

Hip, knee and shoulder replacements can all be done safely as outpatient surgeries. As a result, most people who have these procedures don't need to stay overnight in the hospital.

Being able to go home the same day your joint is replaced provides major benefits, including:

  • More comfortable recovery in your own home
  • Faster return to your typical activities
  • Lower risk of certain complications, such as infection

Most people can go home a few hours after joint replacement because:

  • Pain is minimized with regional anesthesia (numbing in and around the joint) and nerve blocks
  • Muscles around the joint are usually preserved
  • Accelerated physical therapy provides safe mobility and quicker recovery

A few requirements are needed to go home soon after replacement surgery. A little bit of assistance at home is needed for a few days after the procedure. Do you have a family member or friend who can help?

Certain conditions, such as kidney failure or severe heart and lung conditions, may impact the ability to go home the same day as the surgery. The need for other hospital services, such as dialysis, also may affect the length of stay. Other than that, most people are better off going home the same day.

Studies have shown that outpatient same-day surgery is not only safe but is also a more satisfactory experience. The key is to have help at home for a few days after the procedure. It's also important to educate yourself before surgery with the help of dedicated surgical and physical therapy teams experienced in outpatient joint replacement.


Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, M.D., Ph.D.

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Jan. 25, 2023 See more Expert Answers