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Common Fears and Concerns of Total Joint Replacement

You’re probably vaguely familiar with something called total joint replacement surgery.

By: Sara Dale | Category: Health & Fitness | Issue: June 2009

Dr. Ronald S. LaButti is fellowship trained in lower extremity and joint reconstruction.

You’re probably vaguely familiar with something called total joint replacement surgery. You’ve scanned stories here and there in newspapers and magazines regarding this revolutionary procedure. Perhaps, you’ve even seen news reports on television touting the benefits of this  course of action. All along, you figured it was something that happened to other people – certainly nothing that would ever affect you and your lifestyle.

Your assumption may very well be correct. But, on the off chance it isn’t, one thing to remember is that total joint replacement surgery is your friend, as is Ronald S. LaButti, D.O., who practices with Central States Orthopedic Specialists, Inc. Dr. LaButti specializes in hip replacement, knee replacement, and revision surgery of the hip and knee. Additionally, Dr. LaButti is fellowship-trained in lower extremity and joint reconstruction.

The two criteria for being a candidate for total joint replacement surgery are:
• Severe, disabling pain in the knee and/or hip
• Arthritis in the knee and/or hip

“Total joint replacement surgery is an end-stage arthritis surgery in which the arthritic or damaged bone and cartilage is removed and replaced with an artificial joint made of metal and plastic called a prosthesis,” Dr. LaButti says.  “It’s perfectly natural for a patient to be concerned when they first learn they may be a candidate. But, once we discuss the surgery itself and what they can expect, the patient’s comfort level is definitely improved. To me, there’s nothing as gratifying as working with a patient and restoring his or her mobility and independence.”

What Tops the List of Fears and Concerns?

According to Dr. LaButti, patients’ top concerns include:
How long will my knee or hip replacements last?
Am I too old for this surgery? Am I too young for this surgery? Following surgery, how difficult is the recovery?

Let’s tackle these concerns one by one.

How long do joint replacements typically last?
The length of time the replacement lasts varies from patient to patient. “Once a person has received a joint replacement, we have them come in for check-ups every one to two years to see how everything is going,” Dr. LaButti says. “The older patient has approximately a 5 to 10 percent chance of loosening in a 12-15 year period and the younger patient a 10-15 percent chance.  In patients who are younger and excessively over weight, chances of loosening increase. Excessive wear contributes to loosening, leading to revision surgery.”

Too Young? Too Old?
“In terms of appropriate age for this surgery, let me just say that my youngest patient was 24 and my oldest was 88,” Dr. LaButti says. “The 24-year-old had a very debilitating case of arthritis that was ruining the quality of that patient’s life. In the case of older patients, if a person has a life expectancy of at least one year and has no other major health issues, then, yes, that person is also a candidate for this procedure. The 88-year-old woman I recently performed surgery on was in good health, but was living with such pain that she could not sleep or sit comfortably. Regardless of your age, this is no way to live.”

What Can I Expect Following Surgery?
Following surgery, joint replacement patients can expect to spend three to five days in the hospital. Once they are discharged, the patient receives physical therapy in his or her home three times a week. “Recovery from total joint replacement surgery typically requires anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks. That’s somewhat of a broad window, but recovery varies and again depends on the individual,” Dr. LaButti says.

Addressing Other Concerns:
Additional concerns that may stand in the way of someone receiving this life-altering surgery include fear of blood transfusions. “In many cases, auto donating (donating your own blood) can cause false pre-operative anemia,” Dr. LaButti says. “There’s really no reason to donate your own blood anymore and we discourage our patients from going this route. The community blood centers test the blood they receive extensively.  It then undergoes cross matching. The testing at community blood centers is very safe and thorough. Safety is their first priority.”

Another common concern Dr. LaButti hears patients express is feeling they simply aren’t healthy enough to undergo total joint replacement surgery. “If a patient has medical problems, it’s certainly something we don’t take lightly,” Dr. LaButti says. “In these situations, we run the patient through a full battery of tests to see if total joint replacement surgery is a viable option.  Sometimes, an evaluation by a cardiologist is included.  We do all we can to ensure this surgery is appropriate for the patient and will make a lasting improvement in his or her life; after all, that’s the overall goal we’re trying to accomplish in the first place.”

For more information about Dr. Ronald S. LaButti and total joint replacement surgery, call Central States Orthopedic Specialists, Inc. at (918) 481-2767 or log onto

 For more information, contact

Dr. Ronald S. LaButti
Central States Orthopedic Specialists, Inc.

6585 S. Yale, Ste. 200
Tulsa, OK 74136
(918) 481-2767

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