Victoria hospital offers innovative same-day hip and knee replacement surgery

Dr. Duncan Jacks has created a committee to expand the VERA program to other types of surgery at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria in the near future. (Submitted by the Vancouver Island Health Authority)

Under the new protocols, patients can leave the hospital a few hours after their operation

Adam van der Zwan · CBC News · Posted: Sep 02, 2020

[Excerpt] Seventy-one-year-old Dan Kelly says he was in disbelief when he left the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria three hours after a total hip replacement.

“I did a little jig right after I got off the bed,” he recounted. “I walked about 30 feet to the bathroom. That was just an hour after my surgery. It was unbelievable.”

By noon he felt good enough to go home.

Kelly is one of eight trial patients who’ve had hip or knee replacement surgery under Island Health’s new Victoria Enhanced Recovery Arthroplasty (VERA) program, over the past year. 

Lead orthopedic surgeon Dr. Duncan Jacks says hip and knee replacements are in high demand, and the program involves a new way of controlling pain and anesthesia before, during and after surgery, to drastically improve patient recovery. 

Under the new protocols, patients who are “reasonably healthy” are given a number of medications before their operation “to target all the different pain pathways … before the pain sets in,” said Jacks.

Patients are also injected with anesthetic into the epidural space outside the spinal fluid, rather than into the fluid directly, “allowing the patient’s motor-function to recover almost immediately.” 

Jacks said his team is also trying to minimize soft tissue damage through different cutting techniques, and is using specialized sutures and dressing materials to minimize drainage from surgical wounds.

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