Frequently Asked Questions
Patients of Dr. Carlos J. Lavernia often have questions about their orthopedic conditions and the treatments we offer. For your convenience, here are some of the most common questions and answers
Joint Replacement FAQs
A total hip replacement is a procedure in which the surgeon removes a painful hip joint and replaces it with an artificial joint (prosthesis) specially designed for this purpose.
A total knee replacement is a procedure in which the surgeon removes a painful knee joint and replaces it with an artificial one prosthesis specially designed for this purpose.
The practice focuses primarily on hip and knee surgeries, which include complete replacements and revisions. Dr. Lavernia also performs shoulder repair and replacement and several types of fracture surgeries.
Recovery varies with each person. Most patients will use a walker for four weeks after the surgery. Patients gradually increase their activities over the first six weeks after surgery. Impact loading sports, such as tennis and jogging, are not recommended.
After discharge, there is usually no need for a nursing home or rehabilitation unit.
As with any surgery, there are risks of complications. However, complications after knee or hip replacement are not frequent. Possible complications can include infections, blood clots, damage to nearby blood vessels and nerves, reactions to the anesthesia, and thigh pain, among others.
Patients who have significant pain and impediment due to their hip or knee. When knee or hip pain severely limits your ability to walk, work or perform even simple activities, knee or hip replacement should be considered.
A thorough evaluation of your joint condition has to be made prior to treatment. Knee or hip replacement is only recommended after trying out pills, injections and, on occasion, physical therapy. Arthroscopic surgery is not beneficial once arthritis is advanced. Also, it is not likely that anti-inflammatory drugs or cortisone injections will give you the same long-term relief as either a knee or hip replacement.
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. In this disorder, the affected joint experiences a progressive loss of cartilage, the slippery material that cushions the ends of bones. As a result, the bone beneath the cartilage undergoes changes that lead to bony overgrowth. The tissue that lines the joint can become inflamed, the ligaments can loosen, and the associated muscles weaken. The patient then experiences pain when the joint is used.
Many experts now believe that osteoarthritis is a disorder that results from a combination of heredity, ambient use, and diet sometimes coupled with injuries to the joint. In spite of years of research, there is no simple answer to this question. There are many factors that probably contribute to the initial cartilage damage that sets off the destructive process. It remains unknown why particular joints are affected by osteoarthritis (OA) if they have not suffered any previous injury or disease.
In the early stages of arthritis, successful alternative treatments may include medication, exercise, and injections. However, since anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections do not change the progression of the disease, these conservative options eventually become ineffective and surgery is required. Joint replacement provides a long-term solution for pain relief and the ability to return to an active lifestyle.
Today, most artificial joints last 25 to 30 years under normal use. However, they can wear out sooner if subjected to impact loading. When a replaced joint wears out, loosens or develops a problem, it can often be replaced.
More often than not, joint replacements use a combination of materials. Most of the materials used today have been around for over 50 years. These generally include a cobalt chrome alloy, which is a high strength hard alloy. Another metal that is commonly used is titanium, which is used as an alloy with aluminum and vanadium. An ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene plastic is also utilized in joint replacement. Recent improvements, both in the type of plastic used, as well as in the processing of the plastic, have resulted in a significant reduction in the wear of the component.
This can be done. However, in most cases, it is safer to stage the surgeries at least four weeks apart to allow the patient to recover and to minimize the complications.
If you are experiencing severe pain in your knee, hip, or shoulder from osteoarthritis, and conservative treatments such as cortisone injections, viscosupplementation injections for the knee, medication, and physical therapy no longer help, you may be a candidate for joint replacement surgery. Dr. Lavernia will evaluate your condition and discuss your surgical options.
With advances in technology and materials, most artificial joints last for 15 to 20 years. However, this can vary from patient to patient. There are a number of factors that can shorten the lifespan of a joint prosthesis, including your weight and activity level, as well as problems within or around the joint. In some cases, the artificial joint may need to be replaced in revision surgery.
The anesthesia provided will depend on the patient's preference and the anesthesiologist's recommendation. Options include local and regional block anesthesia, as well as general anesthesia. Your surgical anesthesia will be discussed in detail during your pre-operative visit.
Hospital stay is about one to two days, depending on how fast your knee or hip heals. When you leave the hospital, most patients go home. At home, the physical therapist will visit you for a personalized therapy plan. Your therapist will review your exercise program, continue working with you on your precautions, and suggest ways to make your home environment safe.
Most likely, yes. Current technology will detect these very often. We can provide a card notifying officials that you are a patient with an implanted metallic device. However, these cards can be easily counterfeited, which is why most officials will disregard them and use a metal wand over the site of the surgery to ensure there are no other metallic devices in that area other than the joint replacement.
He's been practicing for more than 25 years as an orthopedic surgeon.
Dr. Lavernia is board certified by the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery and also is a Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedics and the American College of Surgeons.