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Pre-Op and Aftercare – Total Knee Replacement

Home » Patient Appointment Prep » Pre-Op and Aftercare – Total Knee Replacement

Pre-Op & Aftercare for Total Knee Replacement

What you can expect before, during and after orthopaedic surgery

Before joint replacement surgery, you will need to prepare for your procedure and recovery. Remember to visit our Patient Portal to download any necessary forms, and find other helpful resources in our Learning Center.

Once your surgery is scheduled, please contact your primary care physician to make an appointment for preoperative medical clearance. The hospital also will contact you to schedule pre-admission testing.

Total knee replacement patients also will be asked to attend an informative class about your upcoming procedure. Our office will contact your insurance company to pre-authorize the joint replacement procedure. The hospital and anesthesiologist will bill separately for their services. 

The day before surgery
  • A nurse will call you the day before your surgery and tell you what time to check in. If your surgery will be on a Monday, you may receive this call the Friday before.
  • If you are sick or have an infection, call to inform your surgeon.
  • Make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from the surgery center.
  • Do not smoke the day before or day of your surgery.
  • Do not eat or drink after midnight the day of your surgery.
  • Follow your care team’s instructions on which prescription medications to take or to avoid the night before and morning of your surgery.
  • Follow your care team’s instructions for showering and bathing. You may be asked to shower with Hibiclens, a disinfectant, the night before your surgery. Do not use this product on your face, head or private parts.
  • Do not shave your legs the night before or the day of surgery.
The morning of your surgery
  • You’ll be asked to come in as much as an hour before your surgery. Do not wear jewelry or bring any valuables with you. Please make arrangements for someone to drive you to and from the center.
  • If you were told to take medication, do so only with a sip of water. Otherwise do not eat or drink anything.
  • Bring along your photo ID, health insurance card, pharmacy card, a copy of your advanced directive or living will, and a list of all of the prescription and over-the-counter prescriptions you take.
  • Bring a case for contact lenses, eyeglasses, dentures and hearing aids.
  • Do not wear makeup or use lotion, powder or perfume.
  • Remove nail polish from the arm or leg undergoing surgery.
What to expect during and after surgery
  • On the day of your surgery, you’ll check in at the front desk and go to a holding/staging area, where you’ll change into a hospital gown and slippers. The surgery itself may take one to two hours, after which you’ll recover in the post-anesthesia care unit until the anesthesia wears off.
  • Your family is welcome to stay in the waiting room during your surgery. We will let them know when you are out of surgery. If your family does not plan to stay, please provide a phone number so we can call them after your surgery.
  • If you are staying overnight, you will complete the rest of your in-hospital recovery in either a private or a semi-private room. You will most likely spend 2-3 days in the hospital. Physical therapy is done with you there. If you had outpatient surgery and will be going home, arrange for someone to drive you and also to stay with you for 24 hours.
  • Upon your return home, you may wish to avoid stairs for a week or longer. If you live in a multi-story house, consider sleeping on the first floor during the first week of your recovery. We are also potentially able to set up home-care to come to your house and help with physical therapy and household chores.
Follow-up care
  • Following your surgery and brief hospital stay, you may be transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation center for a few days. If necessary, the hospital case manager will assist you and your family with arranging this transfer.
  • Most patients will be prescribed a blood thinner after surgery to decrease the risk of forming a blood clot. Some forms of blood thinners are self-administered by injection using a small needle.
  • If you’ve had knee replacement surgery, a continuous passive motion (CPM) machine and/or ice machine may be used to improve your knee’s range of motion and reduce swelling and pain. A company separate from Kayal Orthopedic Center provides and bills for this equipment. Please consult with our office manager about your insurance coverage for this equipment.
  • Please make a follow-up appointment with our office for about 2 weeks after a partial or total knee replacement. Subsequent visits will be necessary to take X-rays of your knee at after two weeks, six weeks, three months, six months, one year and annually thereafter. Rest assured that it is normal to feel numbness after surgery on each side of your skin incision. This happens because tiny sensory nerves are severed during the operation.
  • Make sure to follow lifelong total knee precautions. Avoid kneeling on the replaced knee.
  • For patients who are uncomfortable traveling for physical therapy to rehabilitate their knee, homecare therapy can be arranged. However, most patients begin outpatient physical therapy 2 weeks post-op.
  • You will also need to be pre-medicated with antibiotics before you have dental work or any invasive medical procedure lifelong.

Recovery time will vary depending on the type of injury you have, but it’s important to refrain from doing too much too quickly after your appointment, and adhering to your doctor’s recommendations. With help from Kayal Orthopaedic Center’s expert team, you’ll be able to return to your active life as soon as possible by following a customized recovery program. Learn more about aftercare for sports injuries in our Learning Center.