CRMC Offers Same-Day Total Knee Replacement

Theresa Romzek of Cookeville, who had her right knee replaced a year ago as an inpatient, was excited to be Cookeville Regional’s first patient to have same-day, outpatient total knee replacement surgery when it came time to replace her left knee.


“I bragged that it took from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.,” said Romzek, whose surgery was performed in late 2019. Cookeville Regional is able to offer this major surgery on an outpatient basis because of several recent advances, including robotic-assisted surgery and a new tourniquetless approach that reduces muscle damage, cutting pain and recovery time in half.


“We can’t offer same-day total knee replacement to all of our patients, but for a certain subset who are active and really want to get back into their lives quickly, we try to facilitate that for them if we think it’s possible and safe medically,” said Dr. John Turnbull, an orthopedic surgeon at Cookeville Regional and Tier 1 Orthopedic Institute.


Another crucial element in the success of outpatient total knee replacement is the addition of an orthopedic nurse navigator, Melissa Thompson, RN, BSN, ONN.


“A big surgery like total knee or total hip replacement causes a lot of anxiety for a patient, and Melissa has really helped out in getting patients prepared so they know what to expect,” said Dr. Turnbull. “Within a month before surgery, our patients are meeting with her to get prepared for the process, to set their expectations reasonably and to make them more comfortable with the process.”


“They sent me home with the navigator’s number so I could call her at any time I felt worried or didn’t understand something,” said Romzek. “I was at physical therapy the next morning after surgery, and she was at my side then and for the next couple of

weeks of therapy. I never felt alone, and that was all I needed.”


Romzek was walking without pain the day after her surgery, and within weeks, she was able to be more active for the first time in years, even hiking and walking in the river with her grandchildren.


“With seven grandkids, I want to be there for all of it, and that’s what prompted me to get both of my knees done,” said Romzek. “Now I can do everything that those kids can do, and they can do a lot.”