Patients sometimes get confused about when to follow up after hip or knee replacement surgery. Typically, patients are seen around 10-14 days post-op to check wound healing and progression of their recovery.
The next visit is at 6-8 weeks to obtain an x-ray and to document progress. If patients are doing well at this visit, the next routine follow-up is at one year post-op.
At the one-year visit, we record data to monitor recovery and obtain an x-ray to check and compare with the initial post-op radiograph. With our joint registry, we will contact patients to come back at 5 and 10 years post op to follow their implants (just like a car you keep for a long time, it is important to monitor the function of your implants).
Several factors affect longevity of joint replacements including body weight, activity level, overall health and the type of implant you have. In general, we tell patients they have an 80% chance their joint will last 20 years. Wear can occur to the bearings much like the pads on your brakes can wear out over time. Most of the time wearing out of the joint doesn't cause obvious problems. As wear progresses, swelling can occur and when advanced can lead to mechanical symptoms such as grinding in the joint.
Regular follow-up prevents serious problems from developing.