Revision Joint Surgery: What to Expect and How to Get Ready

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If your initial joint replacement surgery didn’t provide the pain relief and mobility you had hoped for, revision surgery may be recommended. Revision joint surgery involves removing some or all of the parts from your original surgery and replacing them with new components. This complex procedure aims to alleviate pain, enhance mobility, and improve your quality of life.

Why Revision Surgery Becomes Necessary

There are several potential reasons why your original joint replacement could fail over time, including:

  • Mechanical issues like loosening, breakage or instability
  • Infection
  • Fractures in the bone surrounding implants
  • Wear and tear causing debris and inflammation
  • Dislocations or misalignment
  • Allergic reaction or sensitivity

Recurrent pain, limited mobility and other persistent symptoms after your initial surgery indicate a problem. Revision surgery is often necessary to resolve these issues.

What to Expect: Revision Versus Primary Surgery

While a revision surgery aims for the same goals as your initial replacement, restoring pain-free joint function, the process has key differences:

  • Longer, more complex procedure. Removing existing hardware and implanting the new components takes more time and is technically more difficult.
  • Larger incisions. Your surgeon may utilize the prior incision but extend it to access the joint.
  • Muscle/tissue disruption. More tissue may be impacted to expose the joint fully.
  • Bone loss. Failed components can destroy bone over time, necessitating grafts or augments.
  • Specialized components. New parts are often specially designed for revision cases and prior bone loss.
  • Higher risks. With greater complexity comes increased potential complications like infections, fractures, nerve damage and failure requiring additional revisions.

Due to these factors, most patients find the recovery from revision surgery lengthier than their original replacement procedure. But when successful, the surgery significantly improves pain, mobility and quality of life.

How to Prepare for Your Revision Surgery

To ensure you’re ready, both physically and mentally, for your upcoming revision procedure, here are key ways to prepare:

  • Stop smoking. Smoking impedes healing. Quitting 4-6 weeks before surgery can help prevent complications.
  • Improve nutrition. Eat more whole foods high in vitamins/minerals to optimize healing potential.
  • Lose weight if obese. Reducing BMI lessens surgical risks and supports recovery.
  • Build muscle strength. Focus especially on muscles surrounding your joint. Stronger muscles better support revised joints.
  • Use mobility aids. Experiment with walkers, crutches, raised seats/beds. This makes adapting after surgery easier.
  • Arrange home help. Identify family/friends to help with chores, meals and hygiene after discharge.
  • Address other conditions. Get chronic issues like diabetes under optimal control before surgery.
  • Take lab tests. Bloodwork, urinalysis and other tests establish a surgery baseline.
  • Imaging exams. X-rays, CT scans and other imaging assess joint damage to plan surgery.
  • Dental care. Treat any infections and get a checkup since bacteria from the mouth can seed surgical sites.

Questions to Ask Your Surgeon

To understand everything involved in your specific case, questioning your orthopedic surgeon is encouraged. Important questions to ask include:

  • Why do you think my initial replacement failed? Were particular factors involved?
  • What parts of my prosthesis do you plan to remove/replace and why?
  • What specialized revision components will you use? How are they designed?
  • Do I have bone loss you’ll need to address with grafts or augments?
  • Should I anticipate a longer hospital stay and recovery period than my first surgery?
  • What specific rehabilitation will I need after surgery? Weight-bearing restrictions?
  • How long can my revised joint realistically be expected to last?
  • What complications are most common with revision procedures? How will you minimize my risks?
  • Is a constrained socket, brace or other device needed to prevent recurrent dislocations?

Reach out to a qualified Orthopaedic Surgeon

Don’t hesitate to contact your orthopaedic surgeon with any other questions on preparing for your upcoming revision surgery. With the appropriate surgical plan, dedicated preparation, post-op rehabilitation commitment and expert orthopedic care, the great majority of patients experience tremendous improvements in joint pain and function from their revision surgery.

As an orthopedic oncologist and expert in limb preservation and complex reconstruction surgeries, Dr. Herrick J. Siegel provides experienced revision joint surgical care to patients throughout Birmingham, Alabama and surrounding communities. He has performed over 15,000 revision joint procedures, including more complex cases. His skilled orthopaedic team can provide comprehensive guidance so you know precisely what to expect before your procedure. Reach out today to learn more about your revision options or schedule a consultation.