What to expect on the day of surgery

Every hospital has its own processes, but when you’re having total joint replacement surgery you can expect your hospital stay to include:

  • An appointed time to arrive at the hospital to complete the admission process
  • Final pre-surgery general health assessments, including pulse, blood pressure and heart function
  • A meeting with your anaesthetist.
  •  Information on your expected length of stay, which is usually from three to seven  days. Your doctor will make the final decision about discharge from hospital.

Preparing for hospital admission

Preparing for hospital admission

Your surgeon or hospital will ask you to follow guidelines before you arrive at hospital for your surgery. It’s very important you carry out these instructions as well as any additional things your surgeon may recommend. These may include:

  • Shower the day before and on the morning of your operation using antiseptic lotion and/or soap.
  • Do not have anything to eat or drink for a time period before surgery. Your hospital will advise you what time period this is but it is usually at least six hours.

The day of surgery

The day of surgery

In preparing for joint replacement surgery, some anaesthetists will order pre-medication to be given approximately one hour before you go into the operating theatre. You’ll be transferred to the operating room on your bed or a trolley. An IV (intravenous) tube will be inserted in your arm to administer fluids and medications, including antibiotics. You will have either a spinal or general anaesthetic (or both) and this will have been discussed with your anaesthetist.  Elastic stockings will be put on your legs to help the blood flow. You may also have compression foot pumps wrapped around your feet and connected to a machine that blows them up with air to promote blood flow and decrease the possibility of blood clots.

The operating theatre is often bright, busy and cool in temperature.

Joint replacement surgery generally lasts one to two hours (sometimes more depending upon your individual circumstances.)

After the joint replacement procedure, you will be transferred to the recovery room where nursing staff monitor your recovery. You’ll remain in the recovery room until you are awake and alert. In addition to the IV tube, you may have a catheter tube to drain your bladder. You will also be wearing special elastic stockings to help blood flow. Time spent in recovery is often one to three hours but varies depending upon your response to anaesthetic. Visitors are not usually permitted in the recovery area.

After recovery, you will be transferred to your hospital ward or room. Nursing staff will continue to closely monitor your progress and you will be administered pain medication to manage pain. You’ll be given a diet of clear liquids or soft foods, as tolerated.  A physiotherapist will visit to discuss post-operative exercises. You will be encouraged to breathe deeply and cough to clear your lungs. 

Next Steps

Contact your GP or health professional to discuss your options