August 28, 2020

Outpatient joint replacement surgery a welcome option for some patients during pandemic

Madison, Wis. — When Fitchburg resident Loree Nelson's hip replacement surgery was postponed this past March because of the pandemic, she felt a combination of both disappointment and relief. She didn't want to delay a surgery that would greatly improve her quality of life, but as somebody who is also living with stage IV breast cancer, she wasn't comfortable spending a couple days in the hospital during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

So when UW Health orthopedic surgeon Dr. Matthew Squire suggested that she undergo outpatient hip replacement surgery – a relatively new approach that has patients going home the same-day they have their surgeries ­­– Nelson decided to give it a try.

"It was hard to believe that I could have a total hip replacement in the morning and then be recovering in the comfort of my own home later that same day," says Nelson, who also works as a nurse at University Hospital. "Given my immunocompromised state, I really appreciated having this option available to me during the pandemic. And now, having been through it, I couldn’t be happier with the results. Not only do I feel 100 percent better, but I feel like I’ve gotten my life back." 

Outpatient hip replacement surgery is not recommended for every patient, but it is becoming increasingly popular among surgeons and patients. Doctors says patients who are mobile and motivated, in relatively good health, and who have a good support system at home, could be great candidates for outpatient joint replacement surgery. Other potential benefits of outpatient joint replacement surgery include less risk of infection, fewer medical costs associated with in-hospital care, and the ability to rest and recover in your own home.