First author Dr. Lawrence Gulotta, an orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, says the standard hospitalization for hip replacement is three to six days. The researchers compared 149 patients who had a total hip replacement and were fast-tracked, and matched them to 134 patients for age, sex, body mass index and co-morbidities who had a total hip replacement under the hospital's traditional clinical pathway which aimed to discharge patients at four days, Gulotta says.
Patients on the fast track had a physical therapy session on the day of their surgery and their pain medication was discontinued on post-operative day one -- as long as pain was deemed to be under control -- while those in the traditional group had pain medication discontinued on day two.
Patients in both groups were sent home with aspirin, an arrangement for physical therapy and management plan for nausea and pain.
The study, published in the HSS Journal, found 58 percent of the fast-track patients was discharged within two days and 73 percent were discharged within three days -- the average discharge time was 2.6 days in the fast track group and 4.1 in the traditional group.