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Joint Replacement Services

Not all damaged joints need replacing. But if you have chronic (ongoing) pain or your joints are making it hard for you to move, a joint replacement may help.

UPMC’s orthopaedic professionals will help you find the treatment that's right for you. We offer joint replacement services that can help you feel better and move more easily.

Why Would I Need a Joint Replacement?

You may need to have joint replacement surgery because of issues like:

  • Bone cancer, which can cause joint damage depending on the type.
  • Hip dysplasia, which occurs when your hip joint doesn’t develop. If your hip joint is too shallow, the ball of your hip can slip out of the joint.
  • Joint injuries, from accidents or other injuries. In some cases, surgery is the best or only option for treating severe joint damage. 
  • Osteoarthritis, a type of noninflammatory degenerative joint disease that's also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs when cartilage within your joint breaks down from repeated use or injury. 
  • Osteonecrosis (avascular necrosis), which occurs when bone tissue dies from a lack of blood.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) , an autoimmune disease. With RA, your immune system causes your body to attack the cartilage in your joints.

What Joint Replacement Services Do You Offer at UPMC?

UPMC’s orthopaedic surgeons offer a range of joint replacement services.

These include:

  • Anterior hip replacement — A surgeon replaces the ball of your hip with an implant. (If you need your hip socket replaced, too, you'll need a total hip replacement.)
  • Total hip replacement — A surgeon replaces the ball and socket of your hip with implants.
  • Partial knee replacement — If only a certain area of your knee is damaged, you might need a partial knee replacement, where a surgeon removes and replaces part of your knee with an implant.
  • Total knee replacement — A surgeon removes damaged bone and cartilage from your knee and leg, then replaces them with an implant.
  • Shoulder replacement — A surgeon replaces or caps damaged parts of your upper arm bone and/or shoulder bone with an implant. Surgeons sometimes use cement to hold parts of your shoulder joint in place.
  • Elbow replacement — A surgeon replaces your damaged elbow joint with a joint implant.
  • Ankle replacement — A surgeon replaces damaged parts of your ankle joints with implants. Unlike ankle fusion, ankle replacement surgery doesn't lock your ankle in place, so you can move it after surgery.
  • Toe (first metatarsophalangeal joint, or MTP) replacement — A surgeon replaces the joint in your big toe with an implant.

Robotic joint replacement surgery

With this type of procedure, your surgeon uses CT scans and a robotic arm to guide the replacement of your joint. This provides more accurate placement and alignment of your joint implant. Well-aligned joint implants improve your ability to move after joint replacement surgery.

Before surgery, you'll get CT scans that provide 3D images of your joints.

These images help your surgeon:

  • Map out how they'll guide the robotic arm during your surgery.
  • Get a clear picture of your joints, bones, and tissues.
  • Protect the ligaments around your joint during surgery.

During surgery, your surgeon will use a robotic arm to:

  • Prepare your bone.
  • Replace your damaged joint with a joint implant.

Robotic joint replacement places joint implants more accurately than typical joint replacement surgery, making it easier for you to move after surgery.

What Should I Expect from Joint Replacement Surgery?

Our goal at UPMC is to make sure you know what to expect at every stage of joint replacement treatment.

We’ll help you manage pain and improve your mobility before, during, and after surgery.

Before: How to prepare for your procedure

Based on your health history, your surgeon may want you to have tests within 30 days before your operation.

These may include:

  • Lab work.
  • An electrocardiogram (EKG).
  • An X-ray.

Someone from UPMC’s preadmissions department will call you several days before surgery. They’ll give you information and instructions, including:

  • The time of your surgery.
  • When you need to arrive at the hospital.
  • When to stop eating and drinking before your surgery.
  • What to bring to the hospital, including a list of medicines you take, your ID, and your insurance card.

Take these steps the day before your surgery:

  • Choose comfortable, loose-fitting clothing to wear after your surgery.
  • Prepare your home for your return. Remove anything that could cause you to trip or make it difficult to move around. Consider having meals prepared so you don’t have to cook right after surgery.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Arrange for someone to pick you up from the hospital and take you home. You won’t be able to drive after surgery.

During your joint replacement

When you arrive on the day of your surgery, you'll meet with an anesthesiologist to discuss your options. You'll also meet with your surgeon to go over any last-minute questions and confirm the surgical site.

Once in the OR, your surgeon will use your preop CT scan to precisely guide the robotic arm and replace the joint.

After surgery, you will stay in the recovery room until you're awake and comfortable.

Recovery after joint replacement

Doctors perform joint replacement as inpatient and outpatient surgery.

With outpatient surgery, you’ll return home the same day as your surgery, but you'll stay in the hospital for one to three days if you have inpatient surgery. Your surgeon will tell you which surgery is right for you.

Before you leave the hospital, a nurse will give you clear instructions about what to do when you get home.

They’ll explain:

  • How to change the bandages near your joint.
  • Which medicines to take and when to take them.
  • Which exercises to do.
  • When to see a physical therapist.
  • How to manage discomfort.
  • How to handle everyday activities, such as walking and showering.

You’ll want to rest when you get home. Although you’ll be able to use the stairs, it’s a good idea to stay on one floor for a few days after surgery.

Most people can walk right after the procedure. You’ll want to move slowly and be careful, though.

You can drive in about two weeks after joint replacement surgery. At that time, you’ll probably be able to return to other everyday activities, too.

When to call your doctor about joint replacement complications

Call your surgeon or doctor right away if you have:

  • Sharp or severe pain. Some pain and aching are normal after joint replacement, but severe pain isn’t.
  • Swelling in or around your joint.
  • Bleeding or discharge around the area where you had surgery.
  • Redness or other changes in your skin color around the area where you had surgery.

Why Choose UPMC for Joint Replacement?

Joint replacement is safe and effective — hundreds of thousands of Americans get a joint replaced every year. If you need to have joint replacement surgery, you can trust UPMC to:

  • Provide timely care close to home. You don’t have to wait months to make an appointment with a joint replacement specialist.
  • Use proven treatment solutions. We want to make sure you receive the safest, most up-to-date treatment possible. That's why our joint replacement specialists participate in ongoing research and training.
  • Educate you about every step of your treatment. Our experts will make sure you know what to expect before, during, and right after surgery. We'll also provide a post-surgery plan to ease your recovery.
  • Manage your pain before and after surgery. Pain is probably one of the reasons you're considering joint replacement surgery. That's why we focus on easing your pain during and after surgery. We'll work with you to keep you as comfortable as possible as you recover, too.
  • Provide compassionate, coordinated care. Team members are on hand to answer your questions and help you set appointments. They'll also help you prepare for surgery and communicate with your surgical team.

Insurances we accept

UPMC accepts insurance from most insurance companies. Contact the orthopaedic department to inquire about your specific insurance coverage.