The latest surgery techniques

to speed your recovery

Ballarat Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine

Rapid Recovery Surgery

Rapid recovery surgery is a philosophy that incorporates anaesthesia, local infiltration analgesia drugs injected around the joint during the operation, medications, mechanics and mindset to achieve the fastest recovery possible. Although not an instant recovery, we continue to strive towards improved outcomes for our patients. Rapid recovery techniques assist in reducing the length of hospital stay, facilitating a faster return to normal activity, and reducing the risk of complications.


A common misconception amongst patients and their families, is that patients undergoing joint replacements need to be in hospital for a week, and often need rehabilitation. We find though that 70% of patients are able to go home after one night in hospital, and a further 20% go home the next day. Improved mobilisation reduces the risk of blood clots, chest and other infections. Our approach to pain management and early mobilisation achieves better outcomes and a positive hospital experience.


We use the RAPT Score, published by Oldmeadow in 2003. It is a score calculated from 12 points. Patients with a score of greater than six will be right to go directly home. Patients with a score of 9, or more, will possibly go home after one night in hospital. If you usually live alone, or have a frail partner, having someone stay for the first few nights boosts your score by 3. The RAPT score does not take into account depression or anxiety. If these are major factors in your life, we will assess there impact and deduct 1-2 points as appropriate.

POINTS 0 1 2 3
Age <65 65-75 >75
Sex Female male
Walking distance housebound <two blocks > two blocks
Walking aids frame no more than once a week no aids
Meals on wheels, home help, nurse more than once a week no more than once a week
Carer after surgery no carer to stay with you spouse or someone to stay


Injection treatments (e.g. clexane) for two to five weeks was popularised twenty years ago. The evidence for its effectiveness has been seriously questioned. For normal patients, a small dose of aspirin is just as effective, and seems to reduce cardiac and stroke events. A paper published in Denmark indicates that normal patients, with a hospital stay of less than five days, should cease any injection treatment on discharge.

We define normal patients as not having a history of blood clots, or a family history of blood clots, and no known blood clotting disorders. For higher risk patients, we stratify the risk and provide more aggressive treatment.

For normal patients we use low dose aspirin and class two compression stockings. For hip replacements we rarely see DVT’s. In knee replacements, small DVT’s are seen 20% of the time, and are treated with the same compression stocking, and the same aspirin dose.


Whilst the operation is being performed, your surgeon will inject around the joint with a combination of drugs. This ensures when you wake, you will be relatively comfortable, and you will be able to begin to mobilise two hours after surgery. In addition, some pain relieving & anti-inflammatory tablets and a pain patch (Norspan) will be used. We have found for almost all patients, we can avoid using short acting narcotics. Avoiding narcotics reduces hospital stay, constipation, sleep disturbance and chronic pain problems.


The philosophy of Rapid Recovery Surgery also extends to other surgery including injury management. Ankle fractures were historically treated with the patient using crutches for six weeks before weight bearing was permitted. With the introduction of new techniques, weight bearing can commence once the wounds have healed (about two weeks) and the joint can be exercised through a range of movement. At six weeks the majority of injuries can be “ready to go”. Achilles ruptures, wrist fractures, shoulder surgery, and virtually all orthopaedic treatments benefit from this approach.

LB Oldmeadow, H McBunney, V Robertson.
Predicting risk of extended inpatient rehabilitation after hip or knee arthroplasty. J Arth 2003;18-6:775-9
EO Pearse, BF Caldwell, RJ Lockwood, J Hollard,
Early mobilisation after conventional knee replacement may reduce the risk of postoperative venous thromboembolism. JBJS (Br) 2007, 89-B: 316-22
Eva N Glassou, Alma B Pedersen, and Torben B Hansen
Risk of re-admission, reoperation, and mortality within 90 days
of total hip and knee arthroplasty in fast-track departments in
Denmark from 2005 to 201. Acta Orthopaedica 2014; 85 (5): 493–500 493

Ballarat OSM’s team of experts are here to help you

Start typing and press Enter to search