Can you have two knees replaced at the same time?
If you have osteoarthritis in both knees, is it better to replace them one at a time, or both together? Yorkshire Knee Clinic’s Jim Newman has the answer.
The first question is the simplest one to answer. Yes, it is often possible to have both knees replaced at the same time.
The second question – whether you should have both knees replaced at the same time – is slightly more complex because there is a technical and a personal aspect to the answer.
The technical perspective
In part, it depends on the type of knee replacement. If the operation is a partial knee replacement, then there really is no reason why both knees could not be operated on at the same time. On a practical, basic level, a partial knee replacement – which involves working on just one part of the knee – is effectively one third the size and complexity of a total knee replacement (which, as the name suggests, involves resurfacing all compartments of the knee). So if you do a partial replacement on both knees, the level of work required is still at or below that required for a single total replacement.
A total knee replacement is considerably more of a challenge, and not every surgeon will carry out a bilateral procedure (i.e. both knees at the same time) – although it’s worth pointing out that our Prof Nick London has done more than 100 of both procedures successfully.
Weighing your options
Generally speaking you need to be fit, healthy and at the younger end of the age spectrum for a bilateral procedure. Recovery needs to be considered too. With both knees operated on, the initial recovery period is more of a challenge – certainly compared with the typical partial knee patient who will often be comfortably negotiating stairs and walking with minimal aid within a few days.
The flipside of that, of course, is that with both knees operated on at the same time you only have one recovery period to navigate, and one period off work to negotiate, which can be a significant deciding factor.
So if you have wear and tear in both knees and think you might need a ‘double’ knee replacement, it’s important to explore the options with your knee surgeon to find the solution that works best for you. You can talk to a Yorkshire Knee Clinic surgeon here.