Surgical Choices To Treat Both Knees

Knee replacement surgery is usually the last treatment choice for patients diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis. The malfunctioning knee joints are replaced with an artificial knee or a prosthesis during this procedure. When both knees are affected, surgeons either perform surgery on both knees simultaneously or do a staged surgery. A staged surgery is when both knees are replaced at different times several months apart.

Simultaneous knee repair

When both knees are operated on at the same time, there are associated risks and benefits present. The main benefit is that hospital stays and rehabilitation periods occur only once. Although the rehabilitation period is only once, the recovery speed is slower since both knees require complete healing. Additionally, patients will spend longer in the operating room, which may put one more at risk of developing complications.

What to consider for both knees

A longer time spent in the operation theatre means more anesthesias is given to the patient. Operating on both knees at the same time will lead to more blood loss and blood clot formation. There is a higher risk of developing pulmonary embolism. There are chances of possible re-admission if the knees are not healing well.

Surgery a few months apart

A staged operation of the knees allows the first operated knee to recover before proceeding to the next one. The benefit of this type of surgery is a lesser chance of experiencing adverse events. The downside of staged surgery is that there will be 2 surgeries, rehabilitation time is doubled and getting active again takes twice as long.

What’s the best option?

Each surgery has advantages and challenges but the orthopedic surgeon will recommend the best option based on medical history. Operating on both knees simultaneously is typically not recommended for high-risked patients with heart or lung conditions. A staged surgery is the preferred option for seniors or high-risked groups. Simultaneous surgery is preferred for healthy candidates or those with a severely poor condition of the joint.

Ask your doc

Before making a decision about which surgery to proceed with, write out questions to ask the specialist. Weigh out the benefits and disadvantages of each surgical method. Think about past medical history, rehabilitation period, and the need to return to daily activities. Clear all doubts and questions with the surgeon before proceeding to repair both knees.