Double knee replacement, often referred to as bilateral knee replacement or even simultaneous bilateral knee replacement, is a surgery where a knee replacement is conducted on both knees of a patient in one procedure (source).
Since both knees are worked on during the same procedure, the patient will not need to undergo a second surgical procedure, and only one session of anesthesia is required for both knees to be operated on.
Some patients may rather undergo a staged double knee replacement surgery in some cases, but with such a scenario, the patient will need to be placed under anesthetics twice. Therefore they opt to have double knee surgery.
Understanding how these procedures work, what risks are involved, and what to expect from a double knee replacement surgery are all important factors that a patient needs to understand before they agree to undergo such a surgical procedure. Furthermore, a medical professional must clear you to see if you are a good candidate for the operation.
Who Are Candidates For Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery?
There are various reasons why a patient may be an ideal candidate for a total knee replacement in both knees.
In the majority of cases where a patient is advised to undergo this type of procedure the patient is experiencing significant pain in both of their knees.
The symptoms should be serious enough to cause them difficulty with their daily lives. Tasks like taking out the trash, doing the laundry, and moving around become painful and harder.
When a condition like osteoarthritis affects both knees and when the arthritis becomes so severe that it causes deformity may interfere with the patient’s ability to walk straight and may further increase their pain and other symptoms.
In these scenarios, undergoing double knee replacement surgery is also a good option.
What Causes Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis in the knees has a number of potential causes that patients should be aware of.
Genes have been noted to play a role in the risk of developing osteoarthritis in joints throughout the body, including the knee. A patient with a family history of the condition is more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
In addition to genes, weight also tends to play a role in the risk of knee osteoarthritis. Patients who are overweight or obese have excess pressure that is applied to both their hips and both of their knees. In turn, this causes more stress on these joints and also tend to lead to more wear and tear.
This brings us to another common cause for knee osteoarthritis – overuse of the joint. Over the years, these joints work hard in order to facilitate movement, and this may lead to the breakdown of cartilage over time. In turn, osteoarthritis may develop.
Another possible cause for this condition is injury directly to the knee, causing the joint to become damaged and cartilage to break down.
An Overview Of Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery
A knee replacement is a surgical procedure where a doctor will replace areas of the knee that has been damaged and worn away with synthetic materials.
The synthetic knee that will be placed inside the patient during the surgical procedure is often referred to as a prosthesis.
The prosthesis used during a knee replacement surgery is made from a variety of materials, including ceramic, plastic, and metal.
Many patients find that a knee replacement surgery helps to restore the functionality of their knees, relieve pain associated with conditions like osteoarthritis, and also improve overall mobility.
In the majority of cases, knee replacement surgery will be performed in a single knee. There are, however, cases where a patient is affected by osteoarthritis in both knees and need to undergo a double knee replacement procedure. In such cases, the patient will need to be physically fit, and they should be in a healthy condition.
How Long Does A Knee Replacement Last?
A common question that patients have when they consider undergoing knee replacement surgery is how long the prosthetic placed in the damaged area of their knee will last.
Fortunately, studies have confirmed that a knee replacement tends to last for a relatively significant period of time.
In fact, most studies find that the prosthetics that are placed in the patient’s knee on average last for more than 20 years in most cases.
Pros And Cons of Bilateral Knee Replacement
There are both benefits and risks associated with a bilateral knee replacement.
Patients are advised to be acknowledged with these factors before they decide whether or not a double knee replacement surgery is the right option for them.
First, let’s consider some of the benefits that a bilateral knee replacement surgery has, especially when compared to undergoing two separate single knee replacement surgeries.
Pros of Double Knee Surgery
Faster recovery time, which translates into being able to return to normal duties in a shorter amount of time.
The patient is admitted to the hospital for a shorter time.
Physical therapy does not take as long.
Physical activity can be initiated faster than with undergoing two separate knee replacement procedures.
The cost of a double knee replacement procedure is also less.
Having both knees replaced at the same time is a good option if both knee joints have severely bad osteoarthritis to the point of deformity.
If a patient decides to have only one knee replaced then the other knee will have to work more during rehabilitation. After rehabilitation, the knee that was replaced is fully recovered, patients tend to put more weight on the prosthetic knee. This reduces the longevity of the prosthesis. Furthermore, patients tend to put off surgery on the other knee, which again reduces the lifetime of the prothetic knee.
Dr. Rashid Ganji explains to patients, “If a patient decides having surgery on only one knee, I tell them they will still have pain in the other knee. Therefore, they will not fully enjoy the recently replaced knee and the chances of a revision may increase.” He explains this to patients that suffer from knee deformity and they are a good candidate for double knee surgery.
Cons of Double Knee Surgery
Patient may have more blood loss than with one knee.
There is a higher risk of complications.
The patient will need to remain under anesthesia for a longer period of time.
Since both legs are performed on, the patient will find it more difficult to stand unassisted.
What To Expect After Bilateral Knee Replacement Surgery
Every patient is different, whether it be age, weight, or medical conditions, no two patients are alike. Once a double knee replacement surgical procedure has been conducted, the patient will need to ask questions such as how long for recovery.
How long does it take to recover from total knee replacement surgery? Generally, it takes 3 months for patients to recover from knee replacement surgery.
How Long Does Pain Last After Total Knee Replacement?
Two weeks after bilateral knee replacement, the patient should start to experience improvements in their symptoms and find that the functionality of their knees will start to return to normal.
During this period, the patient should still take things slow to allow their knees to heal properly.