Day 1 of our 5-day challenge is all about anaesthetic options that may affect your immediate mobility after surgery.

It may be assumed that you are happy to have pain-numbing blocks and infiltrations - and you may be - but it is really important that you know exactly what the surgeon and anaesthetist plan to do in this respect, and exactly what it will mean for you.

Have a listen or refer to the transcript below the video.

 

 

Transcript

Going to hospital for knee surgery can be a difficult time in general, and of course you will have to cope also with a change in your mobility. Although your surgeon has probably explained the surgical procedure in some depth, you need to have a clear idea of how mobile you are going to be on your return.

Your first challenge today is to make a telephone appointment to ask your surgeon how many days you will be in hospital and supported by the staff there. The tendency these days is to get you home as quickly as possible, for both financial reasons and to minimise the potential for a hospital-acquired infection.

If you are going to be sent home in the first 24 hours, then it would be good to know beforehand if the anaesthetist (or anaesthesiologist) is likely to give you a regional or a local ‘block’. You need to add this to your list of questions to ask the surgeon.

Even though you might be having a general anaesthetic and be put to sleep for the procedure, it often happens that the anaesthetist adds what is called a regional block, and possibly a long-acting local infiltration into the wound as well.

Femoral nerve block, popliteal sciatic nerve blocks and local infiltration analgesia will block pain for many hours after knee surgery so you may set off home without pain. However your leg may be weak and unpredictable when you stand on it, and the weakness can take quite some time to wear off. These blocks may become very relevant once you get home - as well as initial trouble with mobility, you may have trouble with increasing pain once the blocks wear off and you need to be prepared for this.

Spinal and epidural analgesia - which you are less likely to receive - may cause similar problems, but in addition may give problems with urine retention. However you will almost certainly be made very aware if you have had these procedures - but this may not apply to individual nerve blocks and local infiltration which may be performed as a matter of routine.

The third question to ask the surgeon relates to bracing of the knee after surgery. You should have some idea if you will go home with a ‘leg immobiliser’ or a knee brace fixed in extension, because you will need to be sure that you can easily fit into the vehicle that will take you home.

That ends your Challenge today, but please visit the Resources List and check through the other things to give attention to before you leave for your knee surgery.

 

Resources

Checklist to download and print of things to remember to do before your knee surgery.

Common patient questions about nerve blocks

A video example of a knee immobiliser

Car transfer after hip and knee surgery​

 

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