The Pros And Cons Of Simultaneous Knee Replacements
Joint pain can slow us down as we get older. You may experience knee pain, or knee arthritis, and sometimes the pain is prevalent in both knees, making it difficult for you to perform daily activities. If your joint pain is limiting your mobility and impacting your quality of life, it may be time to consider getting knee replacement surgery.
To avoid having to undergo surgery and recovery twice, you may be interested in getting both knees replaced at the same time (simultaneous bilateral knee replacement). A word of caution, though: studies have shown this procedure may come with a greater risk of complications.
Here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Getting both knees replaced at the same time means that you will be in surgery longer, which also extends the amount of time under anesthesia, leading to a higher chance of complications. A single knee replacement is two to three hours in duration, while simultaneous bilateral knee replacements are three to four hours in length. A longer procedure means more blood loss, and therefore a higher rate of blood transfusion.
Not having to undergo two separate knee replacements means that you will only spend one recovery period away from work and strenuous activities. In addition, having your knees replaced simultaneously means you can work on both knees at the same time in physical therapy. The work might be harder, but you won’t have to return for the other knee as you do when the surgery is done separately.
Rehabilitation, however, will be more intense and challenging, since patients are unable to rely on a stable leg for support. When patients go home after double knee replacement surgery, their rehab is often done at a facility rather than have rehab services at home as is most common when only one knee is being replaced.
With careful patient selection, the overall success rate is high for simultaneous bilateral knee replacement. Candidates for the procedure must have minimal history of heart or lung disease and be in good health without any serious medical conditions. Severely overweight patients who have a BMI over 40 would not be candidates for the bilateral procedure. You also need to be mentally prepared for the strenuous rehabilitation bilateral knee replacement entails.
“Doing both knee replacements at the same time can be an option for patients in relatively good health with few comorbidities,” said Dr. Obinna Adigweme, a UCF Health orthopedic surgeon specializing in knee surgeries. He urges patients to have a conversation with their surgeon about their desire to do both knees at the same time and decide together if it is the best thing for you.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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