Minimally Invasive Knee Replacement (cont.)
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After the Procedure
Many surgeons combine small incision knee surgery with spinal and epidural anesthetics to speed up recovery. Newer anesthesia drugs are less likely to cause nausea and confusion upon awakening than older drugs. Local anesthesia injected into the surgical site relieves pain after surgery.
With modern knee replacement techniques, the person is encouraged to become mobile much earlier than with the standard method of knee replacement. Many people are able to get out of bed either the same day or the next day, with the help of a physical therapist.
Pain pumps that infuse painkillers into the incision, patient-controlled analgesics, and newer antiinflammatory drugs may all be used in combination to speed up recovery.
Even though modern surgery can facilitate recovery and reduce the risk of blood clots, minimally invasive procedures cannot eliminate the risk of a clot. Some method, or a combination of methods, for reducing the likelihood of blood clots after surgery is still necessary. Some surgeons use drain tubes to remove blood from the deep wound. Surgeons may also prescribe injectable or oral (taken by mouth) medications that prevent blood clots (anticoagulants) for several weeks after surgery on the knee joint. People who are prescribed certain anticoagulant medications (blood thinners) are required to have blood drawn to measure their protime (or prothrombin time, a measure of how fast the blood clots). Measuring the protime guides the doctor in adjusting the anticoagulant to the optimal dose.
B Sonny Bal, MD
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