UConn Health Beat: New hip and knee replacements surgeries techniques yield faster recoveries

The main way Halawi can reduce the amount of time is to minimize risk factors such as triggering additional medical conditions, he said. Most of this work is done before the surgery to prepare for surgery and make the discharge faster. (File/The Daily Campus)

UConn Health is working to improve knee and hip replacement surgeries to help patients go home within 24 hours post surgery, Dr. Mohamad Halawi, UConn Health orthopaedic surgeon, said.

UConn Health is creating methods that will allow patients to leave the hospital as soon as their health allows it, Halawi said. Most of his patients go home the same day.

Most hip and knee replacement surgeries have patients staying in the hospital up to one to three days, according to Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.

Patients can go home the same day as surgery but are more likely to have go to physical therapy which can take three to six weeks, according to the University of California San Francisco.

Halawi is trying to shorten the time a patient is in in the hospital post-surgery and their healing process to address their needs, he said. He said he is trying to customize the surgery to address the specific problems and concerns of the hip and/or knee since every patient is different.

“It used to take us several days, now we can reach the same type of criteria in hours. There is no need for that,” Halawi said. “The biggest thing I get is that the patient has gotten [one] knee somewhere else and they hear horror stories. It is now a different way to approach the same problem. [It is] the same surgery in a safer way and a much less painful way.”

The main way Halawi can reduce the amount of time is to minimize risk factors such as triggering additional medical conditions, he said. Most of this work is done before the surgery to prepare for surgery and make the discharge faster.

“I do a lot of research and most of it is involved in optimizing outcomes. We have a lot more information if a patients has a risk factor,” Halawi said. “The problems people are bring to us to help ensure the best outcomes for the surgery.”

The surgery process involves minimally invasive techniques, regional anesthesia and blood-conserving strategies. However, it is most important to customize the surgery to the specific patient’s need, Halawi said.

“I tailor my approach for the whole surgery...for the patient, instead of doing one surgery and [tailoring the patient for the one surgery],” Halawi said. “A much younger patient will need something different than an older one.”

Halawi also uses a team-player approach, getting the patient, their family and himself involved in the decision process, he said. This process allows everyone to understand exactly what is going to happen and go into and out of the surgery less stressed.

“I am always available for my patients. My relationship with them does not stop after surgery,” Halawi said. “I bring the caregiver [in because I] want them to be the coach when I am not with my patient at home. This is will ensure successful outcomes.”

Milady Jimenez Pagan, daughter-in-law to Gloria Jimenez Pagan, said that her 85 year old mother-in-law has had a smooth recovery after getting right hip replaced about six weeks ago.

“[Dr. Halawi and his team] replaced the whole hip, reconstructed it and implanted it to her. We thought she wouldn’t be able to recoup fast. In a matter of three weeks, she was starting to feel better,” Pagan said. “She has asked to not use her brace. It was really fast. She is doing great.”

Halawi’s approach has allowed Jimenez Pagan to regain her independence, Jimenez Pagan said.

“She likes to do her own stuff. She likes to drive. She was getting frustrated having people taking her places,”Jimenez Pagan said. “This worked for the best because she was able to do her stuff… and she is one hundred percent doing all the things she used to do.”


Rachel Philipson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at rachel.philipson@uconn.edu.