You will check into the hospital the morning of surgery. You will be taken to the pre-op holding area where a nurse will ask you a series of questions, and you will finish signing admission paperwork. The nurse will also assist you in getting dressed in a hospital gown for your surgery and insert an IV in your arm. Dr. Swanson or one of his assistants will also see you in this area to sign paperwork and answer any last minute questions you might have. The anesthesiologist will also discuss your anesthesia with you at this time.

When it is time for your surgery, the operating room nurse will come and ask you a few more questions before wheeling you back to the operating room. Everyone will be wearing surgical masks and caps in the room to keep the room sterile. Once you have moved onto the operating room table, the anesthesiologist will give you some medication to relax you, some oxygen to breath, and before you know it, you will be waking up in the recovery room.

It is normal to be a bit anxious before your surgery. However, be aware that everyone is there to ensure that things go smoothly. The anesthesiologist will be with you 100% of the time as will Dr. Swanson and his assistants. It is extremely rare to have problems or complications with the anesthetic.

When you wake up in the recovery room, you will feel groggy and sleepy. You may have some discomfort but should not have significant pain. Dr. Swanson uses many various modalities to minimize your post-operative discomfort. These include various nerve blocks, anesthetic injections, and IV pain medications. The recovery room nurse will be with you to make sure that you are comfortable and having no other problems. An x-ray of your knee will be taken while in the recovery room, and you will be fitted with elastic stockings to minimize the risk of swelling and blood clots in your legs. Additionally, pneumatic pumping devices will be placed on your legs to keep the blood circulating through your legs while at rest to further reduce the risk of blood clots.

After 1-2 hours, you will be transported to the orthopedic floor where you will have been assigned a room for the remainder of your hospitalization. There, you will be re-united with your loved ones. The worst is over; now, you’re work begins. You will have a sling and pulley device on your bed to place under your knee to work on bending your knee as frequently as you are able. You will receive additional pain medications as needed to keep you comfortable, in addition to iron pills, stool softeners, sleeping medication, and nausea medication when needed. A nurse will be available at all times to ensure that you are comfortable and that all of your needs are met.

Either on the day of surgery or the first day after, a physical therapist will visit you and begin getting you up to walk. Most patients will be allowed to put their full weight on the operated knee as tolerated. The therapist will also instruct you on exercises to strengthen the knee and to assist with attaining the maximum amount of knee flexion (bending) as well as making sure that the knee fully extends (straightens).

By the 2nd or 3rd day after surgery, most patients are comfortably able to get in and out of bed independently, get to the bathroom, and walk up and down the hallways with the assistance of a walker, crutches, or a cane. Patients who have stairs at home will be instructed in stair climbing. Once you are able to do these things, you are ready to go home. A few patients may need to go to a rehabilitation hospital if they have no one at home to assist with a few basic needs such as food preparation or grocery shopping. However, most patients are able to go home, and you will not be sent home unless both you and Dr. Swanson agree that you will be safe and comfortable at home.

Additionally, a nurse and physical therapist will visit you at home 3 times weekly for the first few weeks after surgery. The nurse will keep an eye on the incision and remove the surgical staples after 10-14 days. The physical therapist will ensure that you are doing your exercises correctly to maximize the amount of motion and strength you achieve in your knee. You will have pain pills to use as needed in addition to iron pills, anti-inflammatories, and an aspirin twice daily. Elastic stockings and daily aspirin will be continued for 6 weeks to minimize the chance that you develop a blood clot.

At 6 weeks, most patients are getting around well and able to resume most normal activities. You will see Dr. Swanson or one of his assistants in his office at that time. You will be required to continue your exercises for a total of 12 weeks to ensure that you get the best result possible. In order to do your exercises effectively, you may need pain pills occasionally for up to 12 weeks. If you run out, just call Dr. Swanson’s office (702- 731-1616), and one of his assistants will call in a new prescription for you. If you need a prescription refilled, call between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Please contact us a few days before your medication runs out. On a Saturday or Sunday, your prescription will not be filled, and you will need to go to the emergency room to obtain a prescription.

We do not want you to be in pain as it will interfere with your exercises and final outcome. Also, the risk of addiction to pain pills is minimal for most patients when used for pain or discomfort during this time period.

You will continue to improve gradually for up to 1 year. You may notice occasional swelling or discomfort during this final healing phase, but the majority of your recovery will be complete at 6 weeks. Most patients are able to return to active standing jobs at 6-8 weeks, and sedentary sitting jobs at 2-4 weeks. Dr. Swanson will continue to see you intermittently for the first year and beyond to ensure that your knee is as good as it can be.

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