How long does a joint replacement last?

The answer depends on your age, activity and body weight but 25-30 years is not uncommon with today’s implants.


What metal does a knee or hip replacement contain?

Typically, components in knee replacements are a cobalt chrome alloy which means there could be traces of many other metals – but primarily they contain cobalt and chromium.


What if I am allergic to metal?

If you have metal allergy symptoms (rash, redness or itching while wearing jewelry, watches) or if you have a known metal allergy, then Dr. Kirk recommends you undergo serum metal allergy testing. This is done with a simple blood test. This tests for allergies to multiple metals as well as bone cement (used to secure knee replacement prosthesis). Your blood is drawn in the hospital lab and then sent to Rush University in Chicago for testing. This may take a couple of weeks to obtain the results. Most insurance companies DO NOT pay for this testing and the costs will come out of your pocket. If you test positive for metal allergies, you will discuss the options with Dr. Kirk at a follow up visit.


How long is the hospital stay?

You typically leave the hospital 2 days after total knee or total hip replacement surgery.  Most partial knee replacements are done on an outpatient basis.


How long is the surgical procedure?

Most of the knee and hip replacement surgeries take one hour or less.

What if I live alone and do not feel I can take care of myself after surgery?

In-patient rehab is an option however admission to this unit depends on several factors and is not guaranteed. A consult for admission to the rehab unit is made by Dr. Kirk after surgery and the decision for admission is then made by the rehab unit.  An option for admission to a skilled nursing facility is available; however this is dependent on insurance issues. If you do go home after surgery (and most patients do), a home health nurse will come to your house on a regular basis and the physical therapist will also make home visits until you are able to transfer to outpatient therapy.

What are my risks?

The biggest risk is infection. Smaller incisions are made which helps decrease the risk, but there is still a risk. Unnecessary touching of the incision increases the risk of infection. Not keeping the wound covered while it is healing is also another risk factor for infection.

The development of blood clots is the lower extremities are also a risk of surgery. Several methods to decrease this potential risk are utilized. You will receive blood thinners for a certain period postoperatively. Early ambulation and the use of foot pumps also decrease this risk.

Other risks due to patient specific, chronic medical conditions will be assessed at your first orthopedic consult with Dr. Kirk.

How old to too old for a joint replacement?

Your current state of health and meeting the surgical indicators are more important determining factors for surgery than your age.  You may be required to obtain medical clearance from your Primary Care Provider and /or Cardiologist prior to surgery to ensure that you are healthy enough to undergo joint replacement surgery.


Does a joint replacement hurt after surgery?

Yes, it does.  A partial knee replacement has less pain and bleeding than a total knee or hip replacement and this procedure is done on an outpatient basis. You will receive IV and pain pills while in the hospital and you will be given a prescription for pain pills on discharge. Dr. Kirk also injects the incision site with a long acting local anesthetic while you are in surgery. This helps with pain management after surgery. If you are a pain management patient, then you need to discuss post- surgical pain management with your doctor.


Will I need physical therapy?

Yes, and active participation is a must for a successful outcome. You will be with the therapist 2-3 days per week when you are home. The exercises must be done every day – even when you are not working with the therapist. Commitment to physical therapy is required for a good outcome.  Some patients who do not regain their full range of motion may need to return to the operating room for Dr. Kirk to manipulate the joint under anesthesia to full motion.


Will I get a machine that moves my leg after surgery?

No, Dr. Kirk does not use the CPM (continuous passive motion) machine after surgery.  Dr. Kirk found that the CPM only increased pain, increased bleeding and had no real results on increasing your knee’s range of motion. Dr. Kirk advocates the use of manual pressure to assist the knee in gaining full extension.

Dr. Kirk states that “millions have done their therapy with little difficulty ….. so just do it and get a great result”


What is the role of Dr. Kirk’s Nurse Practitioner?

Dr. Kirk’s Nurse Practitioner is Jennifer Gilbow APRN.  She is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner who holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree. She has been with Dr. Kirk since 2011 and is involved in your pre-, intra- and post-op care. You will have an appointment prior to your joint replacement surgery with Jennifer to review you lab results, current state of health and to obtain information regarding your surgical experience. This is also an opportunity to ask questions about surgery or the process prior to your surgery date. Jennifer also assists Dr. Kirk in surgery and manages our joint replacement team.