What Questions Patients Should Ask Before Joint Replacement Surgery

Patients should not feel worried about asking their surgeons for as much information as possible before undergoing a hip or knee replacement.

Many surgeons will be only too glad to try and explain the following issues but often clinics are over-booked and thinking about these issues in advance will help everyone.

What Questions Patients Should Ask Before Joint Replacement Surgery

1.       Ask your surgeon if they are specially trained in hip and knee replacement surgery, rather than being a generalist or someone who does a few joint replacements but is otherwise an expert spine or shoulder surgeon for example. 

2.       Ask them what implants they use and why.

3.       Check that that the surgeon is not constrained in the type of implant he or she proposes to you by contracts or funding issues.  Every patient should have the most applicable implant that works well in their surgeon’s hands.

4.       Discuss with your Surgeon the type of anaesthetic his colleagues might suggest and whether there is a specialist who routinely supports joint replacement surgery.

5.       Ask about how long the hospital stay is and what the goals and timescale are for rehabilitation after the hip or knee replacement operation.

6.       Ask if there are unforeseen complications who will deal with these and where the further treatment will be undertaken. (This is particularly relevant to patients who are sent outside their community for joint replacement surgery, such as in treatment centres or who are operated upon by foreign visiting surgical teams).

7.       Ask your surgeon how long the usual recovery pathway is before you can return to your occupation, hobbies and activities of daily living, including sexual intercourse.

8.       Ask your surgeon and also your family doctor if there are general health issues that you can embark upon prior to joint replacement surgery such as weight loss, controlling blood pressure or diabetic problems.

9.       Discuss with the surgeon and his team whether you need to make any simple changes to your home environment to minimise post-operative complications, especially dislocation.

Finally please don‘t be embarrassed to ask these types of questions. Surgery is not 100% guaranteed but if the risks and benefits are outlined at an early stage some problems and communication problems in particular can be minimised.

This page was last updated on 04/Mar/2012