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Reducing Bilateral Knee Replacement Complications

When a knee hurts so badly it needs to be replaced, often the other knee needs replacement as well. 

But, although it is very convenient to replace both knees during the same surgery, the risk of developing complications such as blood clots, heart attacks, or strokes is higher.

We wanted to be able to select patients that are healthy enough to undergo bilateral knee replacements without an overwhelming risk to their well-being.

Analysis of a nationally representative database conducted by Dr. Memtsoudis and his HSS co-investigators examined the discharge records of patients who underwent such operations between the years 1998 to 2007.  This review showed that out of 42,003 patients, 9.5% (3,986) experienced major health issues, with the majority of the cases experiencing heart-related problems during hospitalization. 

Men, patients over the age of 65, patients who had a history of heart failure, or patients with high blood pressure in the arteries of their lungs carried a higher risk of experiencing health problems after surgery. 

This study helps us reduce the complications from bilateral knee replacement by steering high risk patients to have only one knee replaced at a time.

Full reference:
Memtsoudis SG, Ma Y, Chiu YL, Poultsides L, Gonzalez Della Valle A, Mazumdar M.
Bilateral total knee arthroplasty: risk factors for major morbidity and mortality. Anesth Analg. 2011 Oct;113(4):784-90. Epub 2011 Jul 13.