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Total Joint Replacement: Questions Patients Should Ask Their Surgeon

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The goal of orthopaedic treatment is to relieve pain and restore function. In planning your treatment, your doctor will consider many things, including your age, activity level, and general health. If nonsurgical treatment methods, such as medication and physical therapy, do not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend total joint replacement.

Your doctor and healthcare team will provide you with information to help you prepare for surgery. Never hesitate to ask questions. The following list of questions can help you in your discussions with your doctor before your surgery.

  • What are the major and/or most frequent complications of surgery?
  • Is the skill and experience of the orthopaedic surgeon more important than the device or procedure?
  • Can you give me any information on outcomes and complication rates?
  • If I do not have surgery, what is the risk?
  • How much pain can I expect, and how will it be managed in the hospital and after I go home?
  • How long will the device last, and what can I do to make it last as long as possible?
  • What are the pros and cons of minimally invasive (mini-incision) surgery? Does it really make a meaningful difference in the result, or does it pose unnecessary risks?
  • What will I be able to do/not do after my total joint replacement?
  • Is therapy necessary after surgery?
  • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Will I be able to contact you after the surgery if I have a question or problem?
Last reviewed and updated: October 2013
AAOS does not review or endorse accuracy or effectiveness of materials, treatments or physicians.
Copyright 2013 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons