Understanding the Risks
Over 600,000 patients a year have successful joint replacement surgery. For the majority of patients, their new joint will last for the rest of their life, depending on weight, activity level and age.
As with any type of surgical procedure there are certain risks associated with joint replacement surgery. Though complications are rare and extensive measures are taken to minimize these risks, it is important that you are aware of potential problems.
Infection may happen while you are in the hospital or after you go home. Areas in the wound or around the new joint are at a higher risk. To minimize the risk of infection, you will be given antibiotics before and after surgery. The hospital enforces strict infection control policies and procedures in every patient care area. Your patient care team also ensures that the operating site is sterile, all instruments have been sterilized and the number of operating personnel entering and leaving the operating room is limited.
If your blood moves too slowly it may form clots (lumps of blood). In order to prevent this you may be given medication, special stockings to wear and instruction on exercises to help prevent this.
After surgery you may experience some stiffness and swelling. As you move your new joint and your muscles strengthen, this pain will lessen and your flexibility will increase.
Although rare, other risks may include:
- Damage to nerves or blood vessels
The surgeon will discuss these and other risks with you and answer any questions you may have. When you have discussed the operation thoroughly with your surgeon, you will be asked to sign a consent form. The purpose of the consent form is to confirm that you understand the risks and complications associated with joint replacement surgery.
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