Is there an age beyond which you can’t have a knee replacement? Dave Duffy explains.
You may recently have read the story of a local Leeds great-grandmother who had a knee replacement at the age of 100. Margaret Marshall approached Yorkshire Knee Clinic and my colleague, Nick London, performed the operation. It’s a story that has seen lots of prospective patients getting in touch to ask the same question: how old is too old for a knee replacement?
The simple answer is that there is no age cut-off. When you make a decision about whether an operation is an appropriate course of action, you need to balance the potential benefits against the risks. If the benefits outweigh the risks, that’s when you start to have a conversation with a patient about a potential procedure.
Lots of factors play a part in reaching that decision. On the one hand is the quality of life a patient currently enjoys. If they can’t walk, are housebound or are in constant pain as a result of the osteoarthritis, that’s a powerful incentive to consider surgery. Weighing against that evidence are other factors such as general status, heart health, weight, realistic expectations of surgery and a patient’s likely ability to complete the necessary rehab process.
Age is also a factor that feeds into the decision making, but it is just one factor. It doesn’t carry any greater weight than any other factor and it is certainly the case that I’ve seen many 90 year olds who are biologically fitter than some 60 year olds.
So I would never say anyone is ‘too old’ for a knee replacement. Age can’t be ignored, but it not the defining factor.
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