Trying to decide if you should have a knee replaced is hard. But what if you need to have two knees replaced? Should you have them both done at the same time? That decision can be even harder. Fortunately, you don’t have to decide on your own.
Vasili Karas, MD, is an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hip and knee replacements as well as complex reconstruction surgery at Chicago Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. With his advanced training and expertise in orthopedic surgery, you can trust Dr. Karas to guide you through the decision-making process when you’re considering knee replacement surgery.
Knee replacement surgery
If you’re living with knee pain and stiffness because of arthritis, knee replacement surgery can relieve your symptoms by replacing your damaged joints.
During this procedure, Dr. Karas removes all of the damaged areas in your knee joint before inserting artificial replacements made of plastic, metal, or ceramic. These materials recreate a new joint to restore function in your knee and alleviate your arthritis symptoms.
Surgeons perform approximately 700,000 knee replacements on American men and women each year. When you have both of your knees replaced at the same time, it’s called a bilateral knee replacement. You achieve the same overall results with single and bilateral knee replacements, but there are additional advantages and disadvantages to replacing both of your knees at the same time.
The advantages of a bilateral knee replacement
If you’re physically fit and in good overall health, it can be tempting to have both knees replaced at the same time. Bilateral knee replacements offer several advantages, including:
- Less time off work
- Less time in the hospital
- Reduced medical costs, with estimated savings of 18-26%
Many men and women also opt for bilateral knee replacements because they only need one round of physical therapy. Once they recover, they don’t face the prospect of needing additional surgery and rehab in the future.
The disadvantages of a bilateral knee replacement
While there are several advantages to having both knees replaced simultaneously, it’s not for everyone. The common risks associated with a bilateral knee replacement include:
- More blood loss during your procedure
- Longer time spent under general anesthetic
- Increased chances of complications, such as wound infections and blood clots
Plus, when you have both knees replaced at the same time, you also have a more complicated recovery and rehabilitation process. This is due largely because you don’t have a good leg to rely on. Approximately two-thirds of men and women who have bilateral knee replacements need to stay at a rehabilitation center compared to one-quarter of those who have one knee replaced at a time.
To learn more about bilateral knee replacement surgery, book an appointment online or over the phone with Chicago Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine today.