Dr. Matsen Ko: Is Bilateral Knee Replacement Right For You?

Dr. Matsen Ko: Is Bilateral Knee Replacement Right For You?

Patients often ask “Both my knees hurt, why can’t we just fix them both out in one surgery? I’ll save time!” I appreciate the sentiment- why would anyone want to spend a number of weeks laid up from the activities they love while one knee heals and then have to sacrifice further time letting their other knee heal?

However, both research and my personal experience has shown that having simultaneous bilateral knee replacements are rarely a good idea for both medical health and long term knee outcome. Medically, simultaneous bilateral total knees can increase your risk of blood clots and cardiovascular complications, especially if you’re over the age of 75.

From a recovery standpoint, it puts the long term knee outcome at risk because the rehabilitation is much more difficult. Having knee replacements done as separate procedures is effective because you have the other knee to put weight on for stability. Additionally, your overall pain level is lower which allows you to get more movement, faster, out of your knee post-operatively. I have seen patients unable to tolerate doing the physical therapy on both knees and they end up with stiff painful knees after the procedure.

I treat all of my patients as individuals and, should you have interest in doing a bilateral knee replacement, we would do a full pre-operative evaluation to ensure that you’re a candidate and will have success. With this, I would make sure that you are equipped with the proper education on how to go about the healing process when having a bilateral procedure done.

In summary, I’m willing to consider bilateral total knee replacement on a case-by-case basis but generally urge my patients to wait 2-3 months between procedures. My goal is optimal outcome of your surgery so we can get you back out walking, doing stairs and maneuvering life without pain.

-Dr. Laura Matsen Ko

Joint Replacement Surgeon

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