After you have decided to have a hip replacement, you will have to attend a pre-operative assessment clinic. Here, a registered nurse will assess your fitness for surgery and also give you information on what to expect during your stay in hospital. He or she will carry out blood tests and/or an ECG and may send you for X-rays. Don’t be alarmed if you have to undergo one or more of these investigations – they are undertaken to assess your general health and your fitness for surgery. Your doctors need to know that you are physically able to cope with the surgical procedure.
It is important to discuss any medication you are taking with the nurse. If you are taking blood-thinning tablets, you may have to discontinue them for some time before the operation as they can increase the risk of bleeding and can interfere with your surgery and recovery. You may be told not to take aspirin, ibuprofen and all herbal or homeopathic medicines for several days before your operation. You should take your normal medication up to and including the day of surgery unless you have been given specific instructions by your anaesthetist or your surgeon.
Preparing for hospital and what to bring
You can expect to be in hospital for 1-2 days.
Remember to bring the following items with you into hospital:
- A toiletry bag containing soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, shaving kit etc.
- Dressing gown
- Non-slip slippers that are easy to put on.
- Spare clothes and a set of clothes in which to go home.
- Books or magazines
- Reading glasses
- Relevant telephone contact numbers
Two or three front-fastening, knee length nightgowns. Long ones restrict movement.
A few changes of comfortable underwear.
Two or three pairs of pyjamas. A few pairs of boxer shorts or underpants
Admission to hospital
You will be admitted to hospital on the day of your operation. Once you have been admitted, you will be checked by a nurse to confirm your identity, your fasting status, your medication, ensure blood test results are available etc. You will be measured for anti-embolic stockings (TEDs), which promote circulation in the legs and prevent the formation of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or blood clots. Your Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon will see you to discuss what will happen and answer any questions you may have. Your consent for surgery will be confirmed again and the knee joint that is being replaced will be marked.
Anaesthetic and pain management
You will be seen by the anaesthetist before your operation. He will examine you and discuss the type of anaesthetic that will be used. Quite often, a spinal anaesthetic is used. You will not be put to sleep for this, but it ensures that you are relatively pain-free during the operation. For a while afterwards you will have no feeling in your legs and won’t be able to move them. But when the spinal wears off, function and feeling will return. Spinal anaesthesia has the advantage of having a lower risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
It is important that you tell your anaesthetist of any medication that you are currently taking, or have been taking over the previous few days. Certain medications may interfere with the outcome of the procedure, so it is important that you disclose the information. This includes:
- Chronic/repeat medications
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Acute medication (medicines prescribed on a one-off basis)
- Non-prescription drugs such as aspirin, paracetamol or anti-inflammatory drugs
- Homeopathic and herbal preparations
Anaesthetist will discuss pain management with you, if it has not already been done at your pre-operative assessment.
You will be seen by a physiotherapist before your operation. He or she will assess your physical condition and prepare a programme to assist you in your post-operative recovery. You will also be measured for crutches.
Preparation for your operation
Before being taken to the operating theatre, you will be asked to change into a rear-fastening gown and wear the TED stockings. You may be given medication to make you more relaxed. You will be escorted to the operating theatre, anaesthetist will administer the anaesthetic and the operation will be performed.