What to expect

When you arrive at the hospital

  • Go to the surgery registration area.
  • After you check in, you will be directed to the pre-surgery care area.

Pre-surgery care area

  • After you are settled, the person with you on the day of surgery will be invited back to join you.
  • Your anesthesiologist will also meet with you. Your anesthesiologist and surgeon will work with you to choose the right type of anesthesia for your surgery.
  • Your surgeon will visit with you. He or she will mark the surgery site on your body and answer any questions you may have.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form.

Information for your care circle

  • While you are in surgery and recovery, your care circle can wait in the surgery waiting room.
  • Your surgery time will vary depending on the type of surgery you are having. Your surgeon will talk with your care circle when your surgery is over.

Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

  • After surgery, you will be taken to the recovery room or Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU).  Most people stay about 1 to 1 1/2 hours here. Your time in the PACU will depend on your surgery and how fast you recover from the anesthesia.
  • A member of your health care team will monitor your vital signs, help you if you have any side effects from the anesthesia and work with you to make you as comfortable as possible.
  • You may have an immobilizer brace on your surgical leg that extends from your thigh to just above your ankle. This will keep your leg straight and provide some support for your leg when you get up.
  • An X-ray may be taken of your new joint in the PACU.

Post-surgery unit

You will be taken to a post-surgery unit when:

  • you are fully awake
  • your medical status is stable
  • your room is ready for you
  • your nursing staff is ready for you.

When you are in the post-surgery unit, it is important to:

  • do ankle pumps, buttock squeezes and thigh squeezes. These will help to prevent blood clots from forming in your legs.
  • using your incentive spirometer and doing the deep breathing exercises.

Be prepared for your hospital stay

Research shows that patients who take an active role in their health care can have better outcomes than those who don't. Here's some simple advice on how you can  be prepared for your hospital stay.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Knee Replacement, seventh edition, ortho-ah-90140
First Published: 10/01/2000
Last Reviewed: 02/01/2020