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Day of orthopaedic surgery

All the planning you've done is about to pay off! Here's what you can expect to happen on the day of your hip replacement, knee replacement or shoulder replacement surgery.

Checking in for your surgery

Check in at the main lobby registration area of Great Plains Health for all orthopaedic surgeries.

Getting ready for surgery

After check-in, you'll have a chance to speak with your anesthesiologist, operating room nurse and surgeon. They can answer any last-minute questions you may have.

You'll be given a surgical gown to wear and asked to remove any makeup. (Nail polish is OK.) After confirming which hip, knee or shoulder is to be operated on, the nurse will start an IV. The IV will give you fluids and medications during and after your surgery. A Foley catheter will be inserted to collect your urine during surgery. Your hip, knee or shoulder will be thoroughly scrubbed with antibacterial soap, and the nurse may remove hair around the area.

Pain control during surgery

During surgery, an anesthesiologist will give you an anesthetic that provides pain relief. There are different types: A general anesthetic will put you into a deep sleep, while a regional anesthetic will numb specific areas only. You and your anesthesiologist will discuss which method is best for you.

For hip and knee replacements, we normally use regional anesthetics along with another medication to make you very relaxed and put you in a light, dreamlike state.

For shoulder replacements, we typically use a general anesthetic.

Out in the waiting area

While you're in surgery, your loved ones can stay in a waiting area. They'll be given a pager and kept updated on your condition during surgery. Once you're out of surgery, the surgeon will contact them and let them know how you're doing.

In the recovery room

Right after your surgery, you'll be taken to the recovery room, also called the Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). You'll remain there for one or two hours while the anesthesia wears off.

The staff will monitor your blood pressure and other vital signs. They'll start pain control measures. And you may have an x-ray taken of your new hip, knee or shoulder.

In your room

Most people are brought directly from the recovery room to their room, usually located on the fourth floor of the hospital.

You'll spend the remainder of your day resting. Plan to limit visitors to one or two close friends or family members.

Remember to do your deep breathing exercises and ankle pumps. These exercises are very important to help prevent pneumonia and blood clots. Compression stockings and sequential compression devices may also be used to help prevent blood clots.

The nurse will periodically check your circulation and may apply ice to your incision.

If you've had a knee replacement, don't use pillows under your knee that would cause it to bend or flex.

Pain control after surgery

There are several pain control methods that can keep you comfortable and allow you to be up and moving shortly after surgery. Your doctor will help choose the method right for you. It may include:

  • Oral medications. These may be started before surgery and continue throughout your hospital stay and recovery at home.
  • IV pain medications. These are given through a vein in the arm. They may be used for severe pain or before oral medication has taken effect.
  • A nerve block. This is a regional anesthetic injected in the thigh or neck area. Nerve blocks prevent the pain signals from reaching the brain.

You may be asked to use a pain scale to help describe your pain level. Don't try to tough it out. Let your healthcare team know if:

  • Your pain medication is not working well enough.
  • Your feel your pain increasing.
  • You feel nauseated.
  • You're not as alert as you want to be.

Adjustments can be made to your medications to make you more comfortable.

Repositioning and applying ice to the area for 15-minute intervals may also help. And relaxation techniques, such as soft music or deep breathing, can help with pain control too.

Have a question about your orthopaedic surgery?

Call Great Plains Health Orthopaedics in North Platte at 308.568.3800 to speak with one of our experienced staff members.

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