These days, it can take longer to get your car’s tires replaced than to have one of your joints replaced.

Seattle’s First Hill Surgery Center is now offering total knee and total hip replacement surgeries in an outpatient setting. Surgery takes approximately two hours, with the patient—who would be admitted at about 7:30 a.m.—generally able to go home before 2 p.m. Patients are discharged after they are awake, stable and can walk a minimum of 50 feet (and go up and down stairs, if they have them at home) using a walker.

The innovation allows patients to avoid a hospital stay, which is a big benefit for patients in the form of lower costs: between 30 and 70 percent less than an inpatient hospital setting. Outpatient surgery also may offer a lowered risk of complications, including infection. “The more time you spend in a surgery center or hospital, the more you increase the risk for a hospital-acquired infection,” says Michael McClain, executive director of First Hill Surgery Center. Patients recover at home with the help of a friend or family member.

Traditionally, total joint replacement surgery has required a several-day stay in a hospital, but that changed in Seattle last October when the First Hill Surgery Center—one of the largest freestanding outpatient surgery centers in the state—began offering the surgeries. By the end of January, Chris Cannon, M.D., had performed more than a dozen total joint replacements in the outpatient surgery center, and currently is scheduling two or three per month. (He has also performed hundreds of inpatient total joint replacement surgeries.) The clinic hasn’t had a complication or an infection to date. First Hill Surgery Center opened in 2016 and is a joint venture between The Polyclinic and Swedish Medical Center.

 Maria Dolan | Seattle Magazine

Image Credit: Maria Dolan/Seattle Magazine

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