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When arthritis or other damage to the knee joint becomes severe, patients may consider knee replacement surgery. A bilateral knee replacement is when both knees are replaced during the same surgical procedure.
Dr. Michael Bates, MD, explains which patients are strong candidates for a bilateral knee replacement and the challenges during and after surgery. Dr. Bates specializes in adult reconstruction, total knee replacements, partial knee replacements and posterior & anterior hip replacements.
The most common reasons a patient requests a bilateral surgery are:
However, not everyone is a candidate for bilateral knee replacement. Choosing the correct patient is critical to the surgery’s success, and I typically offer this procedure selectively.
I consider this surgery for patients who are highly self-motivated, have a strong social support system of family or friends and, most importantly, are physically healthy – at a healthy weight, with no heart disease and no or very well-controlled diabetes.
Bilateral knee replacement surgery does come with the elevated risks associated with a longer surgical procedure as well as a more challenging recovery.
As a bilateral knee replacement keeps a patient in surgery roughly twice as long, I make sure they understand the risks of infection, blood clots and blood loss that accompany any major surgical procedure. While the elevated risk is still relatively small, it is something I take into consideration to help counsel my patients on their decision.
Rehabilitating two total knee replacements simultaneously is a tougher recovery and is important to consider and discuss with your surgeon.
Preparation allows many people to successfully navigate this recovery. The first couple of weeks tend to be the most challenging. Having a reliable support system to help with daily activities like caretaking and transportation is hugely important to a patient's safety and successful recovery.