Many years ago, if you had hip replacement surgery you were looking at a hospital stay of 10 days or more. But now you could potentially go home on the same day. For Steven Pittman, the possibility of being able to recover at home sold him on being an outpatient for his hip replacement surgery.
Steven had been having pain in his knee, shin and hip of his left leg for about six years. He tried a few different options to fix the issue, but when those failed to provide any relief he tried to just live with it the best he could. But in the fall of 2015, Steven saw Jesse Seamon, M.D., a Carilion Clinic orthopaedic surgeon, and found out that what he really needed was a total hip replacement.
“I was floored that I needed a hip replacement because I am only 48,” recounted Steven.
Steven was referred to Benjamin R. Coobs, M.D., a Carilion orthopaedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist, who believed that his age and good health made him an excellent candidate for outpatient hip replacement surgery.
“When Dr. Coobs asked me If I would be interested in being an outpatient my first thought was that I could go home and not have to spend the night in the hospital, so I told him that I wanted to consider it,” Steven explained. “I talked to my wife about it, who is an OR nurse, I Googled every outpatient hip replacement I could find and my wife asked her coworkers about it. After looking at all of the pros and cons, I decided it would be a win-win for me.”
Steven’s surgery and recovery went very well, and he was headed home by about dinner time that night.
“Recuperating at home was a big plus for me,” said Steven. “We stopped at Starbucks on the way home, and I got to sit in my chair that night; it was a great option for me.”
Steven added that he has had zero pain since having the surgery and his quality of life has improved greatly, even in the smallest ways.
“Before I was in pain 24/7 and I limped all of the time, and I know it sounds a little silly, but now I can finally do simple things without pain like walking across the yard or bending down to tie my shoes,” he said.
“There is a trend to getting people back home sooner after major surgeries, and we have found that most people prefer to go home and actually recover better at home than in the hospital,” explained Dr. Coobs.
Dr. Coobs added that many things have happened to allow for outpatient hip replacement surgery, including less invasive surgeries, better expertise with the surgical care, multi-modal pain management, better anesthesia techniques, better understanding of physical therapy and more involved nursing care. Steven's surgery was the first same-day hip replacement performed in southwest Virginia.
“The focus is on safety,” said Dr. Coobs. “The surgery is the same (the less invasive anterior hip approach), and the same-day patients have to meet the same standards that any other joint replacement patient would need to meet in order to go home. The only difference is that we accelerate the post operative recovery process in that the surgery is typically the first case of the day and we do different things on the anesthesia side, the physical therapy side and the nursing side to help the patient progress along these benchmarks more quickly so he can be safely discharged.”
Dr. Coobs added that the safety net of everything that the hospital offers is still available for same-day patients, and even if they pass the benchmarks for discharge, they can remain in the hospital overnight if they feel more comfortable with that option.
“This surgery is a life changing experience for the majority of patients,” noted Dr. Coobs. “They go from a significant amount of pain and limitations to a high quality of life because of this surgery. The same-day option allows us to offer that next level of care to our patients and continue to be a Center of Excellence for hip surgery. It is really all about optimizing patient care.”