Before and after your knee operation, do you need to self-isolate? Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s Jim Newman explains the current situation.
You’re all booked in for your knee operation. But these are strange times, and we need to ensure that you don’t bring Covid into hospital with you or contract it once you are in recovery. These, then, are the current rules and recommendations for self-isolating as of 9 October 2020.
14 days before your operation
Recommendation or mandatory? The recommendation is that you and your family isolate.
How you feel about this period of isolation, and how you respond to it, is a personal matter. As a general rule, you might be more likely to rigorously self-isolate if:
- You’re having a major operation – a knee replacement would certainly count as major
- You have a number of comorbidities, that is, other conditions apart from the condition being addressed by your knee operation. If you do have several other conditions, you may feel self-isolation for the full 14 days is appropriate even where your operation is a minor one (for example, a knee arthroscopy)
- You were shielding at the height of the pandemic
On the other hand, if you are generally fit and well, you may feel you don’t need to isolate. Certainly, we well understand the pressures that isolation can place on the family and can understand why financial, social, mental health and other pressures may influence your decision.
The recommendation to self-isolate isn’t made lightly. If you are at higher risk but cannot isolate, you may wish to explore delaying the procedure. However, if you arrive for your 72 hour swab (see below) not having been able to self-isolate, you won’t be turned away unless local conditions mean different rules are in place at your hospital.
3 days before your operation
Recommendation or mandatory? Mandatory.
72 hours before your operation you will be required to have a Covid swab to ensure you are not infected. Once the swab has been taken you and your family must isolate. This is to avoid the situation arising where a patient tests negative for Covid but then catches it between the swab and the operation.
Typically, this raises three major questions:
- What if I test positive? Your operation will need to be rescheduled for once you have recovered
- What if my whole family can’t isolate? You’ll need to isolate yourself, avoiding contact with all members of your household
- What if I can’t isolate myself from the family? If the family isn’t isolating your options are to remove yourself to somewhere you can isolate (e.g. a hotel with room service) or postpone the procedure
14 days after your operation
Recommendation or mandatory? The recommendation may be that you (or you and your family) isolate.
The rules for recovery are less clear, tending to vary from hospital to hospital and surgeon to surgeon. Spire hospitals, for example, say the following:
“Post-operative isolation– Your Consultant will discuss with you before your operation if you require another period of isolation after your discharge from Hospital”
What is clear is that, after one big physiological insult (a knee replacement, for example), a second in the form of coronavirus is likely to take a significantly greater toll. That risk is likely to be considerably less in the case of a minor procedure, and considerably greater if you have other health conditions.
If you are advised to self-isolate, it will be because the level of risk warrants it, but not every patient will be advised to isolate, and it seems not every case will require the whole household to isolate.
The situation is fluid and local restrictions may affect the guidance you receive. If the information you receive from your hospital contradicts something you read here, follow the guidance from hospital.
And if you’d like to explore your private knee surgery options, please get in touch.
Consultant Knee Surgeon at the Yorkshire Knee Clinic
“Mr Newman? He’s a genius in my eyes.”
Glen Jackson, YKC patient
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