In and Out Same Day

Go home just hours after knee, hip replacement surgery.

Since retiring early from his job as a telecommunications director nine years ago, Tom DiBenedetto has been steadily scratching off items from his bucket list. Most are trips he has long wanted to take to countries around the world.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Tom DiBenedetto

“We’ve been all over Europe, and last year we went to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, which were absolutely awesome,” Tom says of himself and his husband. “We’ve also done Australia, New Zealand and Russia, so we’ve been getting around.”

Tom gets around a lot. When he’s not traveling the globe, he’s cycling along the riding trails throughout Pinellas County, where it was once typical for him to log 30 or more miles a day.
“That’s my exercise of choice, for sure,” Tom says. “I’ve ridden all the trails here in Pinellas County, and I really enjoy it. I don’t belong to a club or anything because a lot of them want you to constantly ride at a certain clip, and I’d rather not do that.

“I just ride for the fun of it, for the joy of the ride, really. I try to get out at least five days a week, and there have been plenty of days where I’ve ridden as many as 40 miles. But that was before I started having knee problems.”

The troubles mostly affected his right knee. They started about 10 years ago, Tom says, and worsened steadily over time until he needed arthroscopic surgeries in 2016 and 2018. The procedures relieved some of the nagging pain that forced Tom to cut his daily bike rides in half (“And that was with a lot of rest in between,” he says) but did little to resolve the overriding issue.

To correct that, Tom needed to have the knee joint replaced. That was the advice of the doctor he saw for the second arthroscopy, who recommended that Tom have his replacement surgery done at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America.

Minimally Invasive

Since opening in spring 2019, Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America has specialized exclusively in a unique protocol for the surgical replacement of knee and hip joints in an outpatient setting.

Developed by the clinic’s founders, Philip E. Clifford, MD, and Paulina J. Collier, MPAS, PA-C, the protocol eliminates the need for long postoperative hospital stays.

“One of the things that’s most unique about our protocol is the medicines we use,” Dr. Clifford explains. “One of those medicines is called Exparel®. It’s a long-lasting, non-opioid, local anesthetic that can last for two to three days.

“For knee replacement surgery, we also do what’s called an adductor canal block. When you do that and the injection of Exparel properly, it allows the patient to get up and move around faster following surgery.

“Another thing that’s unique about our protocol is the surgical technique we use. For example, with our knee replacement surgery, we’re not assaulting the muscle; we’re incising the capsule of the joint. That, in and of itself, means less trauma.

“They genuinely care about you, and they practice medicine the way it should be practiced.” – Tom

“The same is true of our hip replacement surgery. That too is a minimally invasive, muscle-sparing replacement procedure that results in less muscle trauma and less bleeding. And the less muscle trauma and bleeding you have, the better.

“The hip procedure is also done through a small incision, about three inches long, and that allows us to preserve muscle attachments as well, which means the patient can get up and start moving just hours after surgery with no limitations.

“The other thing we do is spend an incredible amount of time educating each patient before the surgery. We’ll spend 45 minutes to an hour getting them ready for surgery and prepared for what to expect and do afterward.

“When our patients go home after surgery, they know that between 4 and 7 o’clock that night, we’ll be calling back to check on them. It’s not them calling us; it’s us calling them. That level of patient care is not really out there in many places.”

“Better, Faster”

Tom began to experience that level of patient care during his first visit. He says it lasted more than an hour and convinced him that having his knee surgery done through Outpatient Joint Replacement Center was the right thing to do.

“I’ve never had a doctor explain everything about a procedure as thoroughly as Dr. Clifford,” Tom reports. “He went over the x-rays, showed us what the knee implant looked like and went through the entire procedure with us. It was amazing.”

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Within a month of undergoing total knee replacement surgery, Tom was pain-free and
fully functional.

Amazing is precisely how Dr. Clifford describes the artificial knee joint he implants in patients such as Tom. He refers to it as “the best available” and credits the joint for a great deal of the success he has in treating such patients.

“With the vast majority of knee replacements, the plastic is fixed to the metal that goes into the tibia and is cemented in the tibia,” he says. “This implant is a rotating platform. That plastic part can swivel and rotate. That facilitates better and faster range of motion.”

Dr. Clifford says the implant’s design allows patients to heal quicker. And Tom is proof. One month after surgery, he was already at a level in his rehabilitation that patients undergoing typical knee replacement surgeries need two months to reach.

“The physical therapists were telling me I was about a month ahead of schedule,” Tom confirms. “And I think that was a result of not just the implant that Dr. Clifford put in, but the skill that he has as a surgeon.

“That and the medicines they use are the main reasons I was doing so well just a month after surgery. And by well I mean I was driving and fully capable of taking care of myself – fully functional, pain-free and doing everything I wanted to do.

“Now I’m riding my bike again. I’ve taken that slow. I didn’t just jump back in and start riding 10 or 15 miles a day, but I’ve been building it up little by little each day, and I’m feeling great.

“I owe that all to the great people at the Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America and the tremendous work they do. But it’s not just about the work they do. They’re also very responsive, wonderful people.

“They genuinely care about you, and they practice medicine the way it should be practiced. Unfortunately, that’s not the way most doctors practice today, but they do it right, and I have only good things to say about them.”

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