Knee Replacement

Preparing for Surgery

One of the most important factors in successful surgery is preparation. As a patient, part of preparation is learning what to expect of surgery itself as well as during the recovery – both in the hospital and at home. This includes knowing the warning signs of complications that warrant a call to your doctor.

Preparing for Surgery

Your first step in preparing for surgery will likely be a medical evaluation. During the evaluation, your doctor will evaluate not only the knee to be replaced, but also the ankle and hip on the same leg. If either of these joints is severely damaged, replacing the damaged knee may do little to improve function.

Your doctor will also assess your general health, looking for any problems that could complicate surgery or your recovery. This may involve blood and urine tests as well as tests like an electrocardiogram (ECG) or chest x-ray.

If you are taking medications of any kind -- prescription or over-the-counter medications, or herbal or alternative therapies -- it is important to tell your doctor about all the medications and doses you are taking. You may need to stop taking some of your medicines for a while before surgery, while you can continue others.

Weight Loss and Exercise

If you are overweight, your doctor may recommend that you lose some weight before surgery to minimize the stress on your new knee and possibly decrease the risks of surgery. Your doctor may also recommend exercise to strengthen your muscles and improve your general health and recovery.

Storing Blood

In the event that you need blood during surgery, your doctor may recommend autologous blood donation – particularly if you are anemic. Autologous blood donation means you have your own blood drawn several weeks before surgery and stored in case you need it.

Because dental procedures can allow bacteria to enter the body, and bacteria that enter the body can potentially get into the joint, your doctor may recommend that you have any needed dental work before your surgery. Your doctor may also prescribe an antibiotic before surgery to reduce your risk of infection.

Learning About the Procedure

It is important to know as much as you can about the procedure and what to expect before you have it. This Website is a good place to start. Your doctor should also be able to give you written information or recommend other sources.

Many people find it helpful to speak with someone who has already had the surgery. If you think you might like to speak with someone, ask your doctor to recommend someone.

Also, some hospitals have classes for patients who will be getting knee replacement. Ask if the hospital where you will be having your surgery has one, and sign up to learn more about the surgery itself and recovery afterward.