Outpatient total hip and knee arthroplastyStephan B W Vehmeijer, Henrik Husted & Henrik Kehlet
As a result of the introduction of fast-track programs, the length of hospital stay after arthroplasty has decreased to a point where some patients meet the discharge criteria on the day of surgery. In several studies, well-established fast-track centers have demonstrated the feasibility of outpatient procedures in selected patients. However, in literature the term “outpatient” is sometimes also used for patients who spend one or more nights in hospital. We therefore propose to use “outpatient” solely for patients who are discharged to their own home on the day of surgery and do not have an overnight stay at either the hospital or another non-home facility. Also, several challenges need to be overcome before this becomes an established procedure. The combination of preoperative high-dose steroids and multimodal opioid-sparing analgesia has enhanced patient recovery after arthroplasty, but efforts to control undesirable pathophysiological responses will be a prerequisite to improve the success rate of an outpatient setting. Also, care must be taken to avoid extra activities or investments solely to enable discharge on the day of surgery. Further cost analyses will have to be performed to establish the true financial benefit of outpatient treatment.