Q: My dad is going to be 80 years old this year and suffers with painful osteoarthritis in his knees. We’re thinking of joint replacement surgery but are worried that because of his age, his recovery will be too hard for him. What can we expect for recovery time and what do we need to be prepared for?
Dr. Vic Ayers, orthopaedic surgeon, Pacific Permanente Group: Age is not determinant for total joint replacement outcomes, but rather overall function and physiologic condition. There are many things that patients can do prior to their procedure to improve surgery outcomes. These guidelines are included in the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program and cover steps for both pre- and post-surgery top help optimize the recovery process.
Some of these steps might be surprising, like drinking a carbohydrate drink two to four hours before surgery so your body has the energy you need to get through the procedure; as well as eating and drinking not long after surgery to get your body’s systems working again.
It’s also important to prepare your home, like making sure walkways are clear of clutter, setting up a bed or recovery area on the first floor of the home, and making a plan to confine pets. Finally, don’t forget to prepare caregivers — make sure you have someone who’s able to drive you to appointments, take care of meals and chores, and help you with medication and exercises.
Make sure to talk to your surgeon about what you can do to improve outcomes and recovery time, or stop by Maui Health System’s free monthly seminar on ERAS, open to all patients and physicians. The next seminar will be held at 5 p.m. Monday at the Maui Memorial Medical Center Auditorium. Call (808) 442-5700 for more information.
Q: What are neti pots and are they safe? Do they actually help?
Dr. David Crow, otolaryngologist: Flushing the nose and sinuses with saline — a saltwater solution — can be part of a treatment for sinus infections, colds and allergies. This method works by rinsing mucus and debris out of the nasal cavity. Neti pots are one option, along with over-the-counter saline sprays, as well as an irrigator bottle with saltwater you make at home.
Whether this treatment is safe or not comes down to hygiene. There have been cases on the Mainland where people acquired potentially deadly amoeba infections because the water they used to flush their sinuses wasn’t sterile. Be sure to clean and dry the neti pot after each use and use distilled water or water that’s been boiled or filtered to mix the saline solution.
* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealthsystem.org/contact.