Ask the Orthopedist
By REUBEN GOBEZIE, MD
Is it possible to have shoulder replacement surgery as an outpatient procedure?
Yes. Orthopedic surgeons who specialize in shoulder surgery are now providing patients with the outpatient option when it applies to their condition. People love the outpatient experience and recover better when they are at home.
When provided by a specialist, the surgery may only take 35 minutes in a highly controlled environment and results in little blood loss. The less time that you are under anesthesia, the better the recovery. There is less risk of infection, increased patient satisfaction and higher quality outcomes based on function and pain with a home recovery. Patients walk out with their arm in a sling and are home the same day.
In the weeks leading up to surgery, each patient and their caregiver should be provided with educational information and a prescription for physical therapy. For example, our practice offers a series of physical therapy videos that patients study before the surgery and work on at home post-surgery. The videos illustrate the exercises, and the education offers very specific goals that each patient needs to meet to recover faster.
The outpatient surgery and home rehabilitation option saves patients considerable time and money. Most patients are able to use their arm enough to care for themselves within a week after the procedure. After three months of follow-up appointments, the patient no longer requires office visits, but the atrophy from the initial injury could take up to a year to fully improve.
While a large percentage of patients are candidates for outpatient shoulder surgery, it’s not for everyone. Patients with complicated medical histories may not qualify. Each patient should be carefully examined to determine the procedure that will work best for them.
All shoulder conditions should be evaluated by a shoulder specialist with a thorough history and physical examination including imaging studies....