A patient may be asked to make several medical and home preparations to ensure a successful surgery and recovery.
Commonly Required and Suggested Medical Preparations
The medical preparations described below are typical for total knee replacement surgery and other major surgeries requiring general anesthesia. A surgeon and hospital should clearly communicate any required medical preparations well before the time of surgery. Patients who have specific questions or concerns regarding medical preparations should contact their surgeons’ offices.
- Two weeks before surgery, a patient may be asked to stop taking certain medications, such as:
- Aspirin, NSAIDs (Aleve, Advil), and other medications that make it more difficult for blood to clot
- Steroids and other medications that suppress the immune system and therefore may increase the chance of post-surgical infection
- A patient may also be told to eliminate or cut down on smoking, since nicotine impedes healing and increases the risk of post-surgical deep vein thrombosis, a potentially deadly blood clot in a deep vein
- Patients who have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may be required to consult specialists in those areas to make sure they are able to undergo surgery
- Patients who have more than 1 or 2 alcoholic drinks per day should tell their doctors, as heavy alcohol use influence the effects of anesthesia
- Patients who get sick (cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, etc.) in the days preceding a surgery should report it to their doctors
A patient should tell the surgeon about any medications they take, including homeopathic medications and nutritional supplements, and make sure they are safe to take before and after surgery.
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Commonly Required and Suggested Home Preparations
By making some simple changes around the house, a patient can avoid deep bending and squatting and minimize knee injury during the recovery period. The list below is not exhaustive, and patients may identify other ways to tailor their homes to accommodate specific needs.
- Arrange for a spouse, friend or other caregiver to provide meals and help around the house
- Arrange for transportation, as most patients cannot drive for the first 4 to 6 weeks after surgery
- Stock up on pre-made meals, canned food, and toiletry items to avoid having to run errands post-surgery
- If possible, arrange to spend sleeping and waking hours on the same floor in order to avoid stairs
- If possible, adjust the bed height (not too high or too low) to help ease the transition in and out of bed
- Take away or move anything that might be tripped over, such as area rugs or electrical cords
- Make sure all stairs have sturdy railings
- Install small rails or grab bars near toilets and in showers
- Install a modified toilet seat; a higher seat will put less stress on the knees and make it easier to sit down and get up
- Put a small stool in shower to avoid standing on a slippery surface
- Have a comfortable, supportive chair with an ottoman to keep leg elevated for intervals
- Have cold packs to help alleviate swelling and heating pads to warm up the joint
- Consider practicing using walkers, canes and other assistive devices ahead of time to ensure proficiency using them
By making preparations to avoid activities that could lead to injuries or impede healing, patients can help ensure a safe and productive rehabilitation.