The baby boomer generation is aging, and their knees are wearing out. When the pain of osteoarthritis no longer responds to typical non-surgical measures then a knee replacement surgery might be your next best option. The decision to proceed with a knee replacement should be based on your quality of life.   Should you consider a same day knee replacement? Is it different than a typical knee replacement?

Knee replacement surgery involves resurfacing the bones of the knee with metal and plastic implants or components. The surgery usually takes an hour.  For decades a knee replacement meant that you had to stay in the hospital for many days.  Over the last few years there has been a lot of interest in same day knee replacement surgery.  In essence, the surgery is the same, only you are going home and not up to the hospital floor.

What Is Different, Why Can I Go Home The Same Day?

Whether you stay in the hospital or go home, you had the same procedure … your knee was replaced.  Many contemporary techniques make same day knee replacement surgery possible today.

  • Better techniques to control blood loss:  The need for blood monitoring now is minimal.  Blood transfusions are very rare after a knee replacement nowadays.  This allows us to send you home much sooner because we do not need to check your blood count for a few days.
  • Pain management techniques have changed.  Managing pain after a knee replacement used to involve only narcotics. That made people nauseous and slowed their recovery.  By using nerve blocks, injections into and around the knee joint, and by employing many non-narcotic pain medications the need for narcotics have diminished.
  • Better home care services.   You will require physical therapy and perhaps a nurse to check in on you at home.  Those services are readily available now.

Is Same Day Knee Replacement Surgery For Everyone?

favorite exerciseNo, same day knee replacement surgery is not for everyone.  The elderly or disabled will still need to stay in the hospital for a day or two and may on occasion need to go to a rehabilitation facility to recover from their knee replacement.

A same day knee replacement surgery is appropriate to consider for “young” active patients without significant cardiac or other chronic diseases which might require a short stay to monitor.  If you are able to get up and get around after your knee replacement surgery is over and your pain is well controlled with nerve blocks and the medications then you can go home the same day after knee replacement surgery.

One caveat… whether you have same day knee replacement surgery or whether you stay in the hospital overnight you had the same procedure.  Some of what is written on the internet might suggest otherwise.  Don’t believe everything you read.  Whether a robot cuts your bones, or your surgeon is holding the saw doesn’t make a difference either.  It’s the same procedure, with the same risks and the same recovery.

Some of you will bounce up and start moving comfortably very soon.  Some of you may not.  Many will have very significant pain relief and improvement in your function and lifestyle, but for some you might still have significant pain, despite an otherwise successful procedure.  Therefore, don’t consider a same day knee replacement to be any different, and don’t expect that you will recover faster.  Put in the effort and you stand an excellent chance of having a good result.


Disclaimer:  this information is for your education and should not be considered medical advice regarding diagnosis or treatment recommendations. Some links on this page may be affiliate links. Read the full disclaimer.

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About the author:

Howard J. Luks, MD

Howard J. Luks, MD

A Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon in Hawthorne, NY. Dr. Howard Luks specializes in the treatment of the shoulder, knee, elbow, and ankle. He has a very "social" patient centric approach and believes that the more you understand about your issue, the more informed your decisions will be. Ultimately your treatments and his recommendations will be based on proper communications, proper understanding, and shared decision-making principles – all geared to improve your quality of life.

2 comments on “Ambulatory – Same Day Knee Replacement?

  • I am a physical therapist who is S/P 2 makoplasties 6 years ago. One has failed and there was a 3mm hole in my left lateral tibia. I am now 2.5 weeks post revision. Please discuss with your readers the differences in the surgical procedures and the increased rehab time needed post revision. Pain inhibition has prevented me, until today, from performing SR and a SAQ

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