Acta Orthopaedica, 86:6, 708-713, DOI: 10.3109/17453674.2015.1081356

The first 6 weeks of recovery after total knee arthroplasty with fast track

Jeroen C Van Egmond, Hennie Verburg & Nina M C Mathijssen

Background and purpose — During the last decade, many hospitals have implemented fast-track protocols for total knee arthroplasty (TKA). These protocols reduce the length of hospital stay, but there is no literature on the first period after hospital discharge. We determined how patients experienced the first 6 weeks after hospital discharge after fast-track TKA surgery.

Patients and methods — 34 consecutive patients who had TKA surgery with fast track received a diary for 6 weeks, which contained various international validated questionnaires. In addition, general questions regarding pain, the wound, physiotherapy, and thrombosis prophylaxis injections were posed.

Results — 4 of the 34 patients were excluded during the study. Of the remaining 30 patients, 28 were positive regarding the short length of hospital stay. Pain gradually decreased and quality of life and function gradually improved during the 6 weeks. Mean hours of weekly physiotherapy were 0.6 for the first week and 0.9 during the sixth week, with high variance of treatment modalities due to the lack of standardized treatment protocols. Additional clinical consultations were needed in 9 patients during the 6-week period.

Interpretation — 28 of 30 patients were satisfied with the short length of hospital stay. The intensity of physiotherapy was surprisingly low. The quality of life 6 weeks after discharge was similar to that before the surgery.

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