When Jan Conroy arrived at Sutter Alhambra Surgery Center for knee surgery, she was surprised to learn she would be the center’s 500th total joint replacement. And while this milestone made Conroy’s case unique, she’s in good company; more than 1.25 million Americans choose total joint replacement surgery each year to relieve pain and restore mobility in their hip or knee.
Conroy is also one of the many patients to benefit from the expertise of an Ambulatory Surgery Center, or ASC. These unique settings of care offer a convenient and safe surgical experience, without the need for an overnight hospital stay.
Not All ASCs Are Equal
Serving residents throughout California, Sutter’s surgery centers focus on providing a high-quality, caring and safe healthcare environment. And they often earn recognition for their efforts. The California Ambulatory Surgery Association named a Sutter surgery center their “ASC of the Year” in 2018, 2021 and 2022, for example.
Over the past five years Sutter ASCs have won a total of 25 Excellence Awards from CASA, including six this year for ASCs that “rose to the top” of the organization that boasts over 450+ ASC members. Sutter ASCs took home more than half of the 11 awards that CASA announced during their 2023 conference; winners included:
- Briggsmore Specialty Surgery Care Center, Modesto
- Fort Sutter Surgery Center, Sacramento
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation Surgery Center Fremont
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation Surgery Center Mountain View
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation Surgery Center Palo Alto
- Palo Alto Medical Foundation Surgery Center San Carlos
Additionally, both Sutter Alhambra Surgery Center and Sutter Sierra Surgery Center – along with 13 Sutter Health hospitals – have been named Blue Distinction Centers for knee and hip replacement surgery. This designation by Blue Cross / Blue Shield recognizes facilities that perform total joint replacement surgeries – safely, effectively and cost-efficiently.
Registered nurse Chad Smith is the administrator at Sutter Alhambra Surgery Center in Sacramento. He joined in 2013 as Sutter’s Total Joint Program was just starting. Only 19 procedures were performed in the first year, but during the pandemic, that number jumped to 180. Smith says the year-over-year growth they’ve seen directly reflects patient satisfaction and advancements in pain management.
“Pre-operative Enhanced Recovery After Surgery techniques, followed by pain therapies such as nerve blocking agents, allow patients to walk out after surgery with an implanted pump that administers pain medication for several days,” said Smith. “These techniques decrease the use of opioid pain treatment, which is better for patients, their recoveries and is preferred by health professionals.”
What is Involved in Total Joint Replacement?
Joint replacement surgery involves removing damaged bone and cartilage and replacing it with an artificial joint. A surgeon may use a variety of joint replacement prostheses made of metal alloys, high-grade plastics and polymers that look and work like a normal joint.
Aided by robotic technology, new surgical techniques are often simpler to perform than the more complex and invasive joint replacements of the past. Virtual 3D models allow surgeons to provide patients a personalized surgical plan based on their diagnosis, anatomy and medical condition.
“I want to get back to pickleball.”
Conroy tore her meniscus 13 year ago during an aerobics class. Over time she noticed more pain and limited mobility as her joint damage worsened. She knew she would eventually need joint replacement if she wanted to maintain her athletic lifestyle. After her procedure Conroy was up and about within days. A week post-surgery she was nearly pain free, walking and looking forward to hitting the pickle ball courts.
“From the moment I arrived, the people on the care team were just so amazing,” said Conroy. “My experience was wonderful, and I am proud to be Sutter Alhambra Surgery Center’s 500th total joint replacement patient!”