If you’re considering hip replacement surgery, your doctor may give you the option to have outpatient surgery. Outpatient surgery, also called same-day surgery, refers to surgery that does not require you to be admitted to a hospital. Most likely, you will be discharged home on the same calendar day as your hip replacement; in some instances, you may spend an over-night in the hospital or surgical center without being officially admitted to a hospital.
Deciding to have outpatient hip replacement is a choice you and your doctor will make together. Consider the pros and cons to decide if it is a safe and preferable choice. Also, remember that even if you do choose same-day surgery, once the surgery is over, you or your doctor can decide you need extra time at a surgical center or hospital.
Potential Advantages of Outpatient Hip Replacement
A doctor may suggest outpatient hip replacement if he or she believes you will have the same or better outcome as you would with inpatient admission to a hospital for hip replacement.
The potential advantages of outpatient hip replacement include:
- You will have a lower risk of infection. In general, the less time you spend in the hospital the less likely you are to get a postsurgical infection.1
- You may be happier at home. Like many people, you may prefer to recover at home, where you can sleep in your own bed and eat familiar foods.
- It may cost less. The medical costs associated with hospital care are increasing, and outpatient surgery could save you thousands of dollars,2 depending on your provider and insurance.
If you decide to have outpatient hip replacement surgery, the surgical staff will spend a lot of time educating you and your caregiver before releasing you home. In fact, one research study3 found that, compared to inpatients, outpatients were more satisfied with the level of patient education they received regarding medications and what symptoms or problems to look out for after surgery.
Potential Disadvantages of Outpatient Hip Replacement
People who have outpatient surgery receive less direct medical supervision in the first day or two after surgery. This decrease in supervision could be stressful if you have a lot of anxiety about your post-surgical recovery.
Other issues affect all hip joint replacement patients and will be of particular concern if you decide to undergo outpatient surgery:
- Pain and nausea. In general, improved anesthesia techniques have made severe pain and nausea issues less common. Still, you and your caregiver(s) will need to learn about post-surgical medications, including how and when to take pain medications.
- Help is required. When you return home from hip replacement surgery, you will need assistance from a family member, friend, or hired helper. This is especially important for if you have an outpatient hip replacement.
- Limited mobility. You and your caregiver will need to prepare for more limited mobility the first few days after surgery. For example, going to the bathroom and moving about the house may be challenging.
- Postsurgical complications. Surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists will examine and interview you to make sure it is safe to discharge you home. Even so, complications can arise, some of which are rare but life-threatening. (You and your caregiver will be educated about the signs of these complications and who to contact for help.)
Whether or not outpatient hip replacement surgery is right for you depends on your unique health circumstances. In general, I recommend outpatient hip replacement surgery if the patient:
- Wants to have same-day surgery
- Is in good health
- Is planning an uncomplicated traditional total hip replacement (there are no special surgical circumstances)
- Has in-home help and a home layout that make early discharge possible
For example, I may not recommend same-day surgery if a person is a smoker (which increases the likelihood of post-surgical problems) or lacks adequate social support.
If you are interested in outpatient hip replacement surgery, you can talk to your surgeon about whether or not his or her office supports it and whether it is appropriate for you.