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knee replacement surgery faqs

What is total knee replacement?

A total knee replacement is really a bone and cartilage replacement with an artificial surface. The knee itself is not replaced, as is commonly thought, but rather an implant is inserted on the bone ends. This is done with a metal alloy on the femur and plastic spacer on the tibia and patella (kneecap). This creates a new, smooth cushion and a functioning joint that can reduce or eliminate pain.

How can I prepare for my surgery?

Your doctor will give you a Patient Guidebook that will help you prepare for your surgery and explain how to care for your new joint after you leave the hospital. You should select a “coach” (a family member or friend) who will assist you through the process. Also, plan to attend a pre-operative class with your coach at least two weeks prior to your surgery that will explain the process and answer all of your questions.

Should I exercise before the surgery?

Yes, you should consult your surgeon and physical therapist about the exercises appropriate for you.

What time should I arrive for my surgery?

Your doctor will give you this information prior to your surgery or you can call the Joint Care Manager at 404.501.5697 to confirm the time of the procedure.

Where should I go once I arrive at the hospital?

Come to Emory Decatur Hospital located at 2701 North Decatur Road in Decatur, Georgia 30033 and park in the Surgery Center lot. Enter the Surgery Center, and go to the first floor Surgical Admissions Center. You will sign in at this desk, and your family can wait for you in this area while you undergo surgery.

What should I bring with me?

Remember to bring your Patient Guide Book, a copy of your advance directives, your insurance card, and a driver’s license or photo i.d. You can wear your own clothes at the JSC, so bring comfortable shorts, tops, culottes, a pair of well-fitted slippers, flat or tennis shoes. You can also bring a toothbrush, powder, deodorant, razor or other personal hygiene items. DO NOT bring: jewelry or valuables, electrical items, or large amounts of cash.

How long will the surgery take?

The hospital reserves approximately two to two and a half hours for the surgery. However, some of this time is used for preparation of the operation room.

Will the surgery be painful?

You will have discomfort following the surgery, but we will try to keep you as comfortable as possible with the appropriate medication. After surgery, most patients control their own medicine with a special pump that delivers the drug directly into their IV. For more information, read about Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) in your Patient Guidebook under the “Day of Surgery- What to Expect” section.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Most knee patients will be hospitalized for two to three days after surgery.

How long will it take before I am back on my feet?

Total knee replacement patients typically recover quickly. You will be able to walk the first day after surgery. Generally, you can return to driving in 2-4 weeks, dancing in 4-6 weeks and golf in 6-12 weeks.

How long will my new knee last?

All implants have a limited life expectancy and the longevity will vary with each patient depending on their age, weight, activity level and medical condition(s).

Will I need a walker, crutches or cane?

Yes, for about six weeks we recommend that you use a walker, a cane or crutches. The Joint Care Manager or discharge planner can arrange for them if necessary.

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Emory Decatur Hospital
Orthopedic Services

2701 North Decatur Road
Decatur, GA 30033

Emory Hillandale Hospital
Orthopaedic Center

2801 DeKalb Medical Parkway
Lithonia, GA 30058


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