Joint replacement surgery used to require a week-long stay in the hospital, and a long painful recovery. Not so any more.

Enhanced recovery means walking into the hospital one morning, and walking out the next, with a new hip.

Six months ago, after getting a total hip replacement, Dallas realtor Mary Cotroneo left the hospital the very next day and was back at work within two weeks.

Cotroneo said, “Everybody’s jaw dropped when I walked into the meeting. They couldn’t believe it.”

Jay Mabrey, MD, Chief of Orthopedics at Baylor University Medical Center, said, “We’ve gotten it down to where we can actually measure your length of stay in the hospital in terms of hours not days.”

The breakthrough, called enhanced recovery, is a new approach to anesthesia. Patients can drink water two hours before surgery. They get a spinal block instead of a general anesthesia, a short-acting drug for sedation, and localized pain management, to cut down on the use of morphine and opioids.

Ryan Hanson, MD, anesthesiologist at USAP, said, “And if we can avoid that class of medications or reduce their use, then we are potentially increasing the patient’s safety as well as reducing the complication rate long term.”

Dr. Mabrey said, “Patients wake up with little if any pain, little if any nausea, and they are ready for physical therapy within an hour or two after their surgery.”

Now that she’s been through it, Mary says there’s no reason to fear the surgery or put it off.

“Here I am, I mean six months into it, and I feel like a new person. Still going strong, getting out there, every day, selling houses.”

Enhanced recovery, developed in Europe and by the military, is also used for colorectal and other types of surgery with improved outcomes.

By Kylie Khan