The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 31, Issue 11, 2495 - 2498

When Is It Safe for Patients to Drive After Right Total Knee Arthroplasty?

Hernandez, Victor H. et al.
Knee

Background

Advances in surgical technique and pain management have changed total knee arthroplasty (TKA). How soon after TKA are patients able to return to driving is a common question. Most surgeons prescribe 6-8 weeks postoperative based on old literature. Our hypothesis is that patient who undergoes TKA with contemporary techniques will return to their baseline before the 6th postoperative week.

Methods

After institutional review board approval, 50 patients with right TKA were prospectively evaluated. All patients underwent a preoperative brake reaction time (BRT), 2, 4, and 6 weeks postoperative. At each testing, we ask them if they felt that they were ready to drive.

Results

Forty-seven patients completed the study protocol. Mean preoperative BRT was 0.692 seconds. At 2 weeks postoperative, the BRT was 0.631 seconds. Thirty-nine patients (80%) reached their baseline by 2 weeks, and the remaining 10 (20%) reached it at 4 weeks postoperative. Confounding variables revealed no differences between groups. From the group that returned to baseline at 2 weeks, 67% patients stated they felt they were ready to drive, 21% patients said they were not sure, and 12% patients stated they were not ready to drive.

Conclusion

BRT returned to baseline in most patients by the 2nd week postoperative and in all patients by the 4th week. Patient perception of driving ability can predict return of BRT. These findings have allowed us to encourage patients to reevaluate their driving ability between the 2nd and 4th postoperative weeks after TKA.


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