June 28, 2019

Pros and cons of double joint replacement surgery

Hip | Knee | Total Joint Replacement

This is part of the ultimate guide to total joint replacement

Orthopedic surgeons in the United States perform more than 600,000 knee replacements and about 330,000 hip replacements every year. A bilateral joint replacement is when either both hips or both knees are being replaced at the same time.

Different factors affect whether you are eligible for a double joint replacement since it’s a more intense surgery and recovery process compared to a single joint replacement surgery.

Your physician will be able to provide you with the appropriate recommendations for your situation. Here we explain the pros and cons of bilateral joint replacement surgery.

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Are you a candidate for a bilateral joint replacement?

Dr. David Fisher, former total joint replacement physician, said “A good candidate for bilateral joint replacement is someone with severe arthritic changes in both joints who is in good health and body weight and is motivated to have both joints repaired during the same procedure.”

  • You need to be in good health and in good physical shape. This helps decrease risks during surgery and the recovery process. Your physician will be able to determine this.
  • You must be motivated to go through extensive double knee or hip replacement rehab in order to heal properly.
  • It’s recommended that you are under the age of 65, but this will also be dependent on the physician’s recommendation.
  • You will need to have someone that can assist you at home after surgery to help with your daily activities.

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Pros of getting a bilateral joint replacement

  • Only going through one surgery
  • Only going through one recovery process and rehabbing both joints at the same time
  • Better usage of insurance deductible
  • Get back to your normal life quicker

Dr. Fisher said, “There is a less overall expense having one surgery compared to having two separate procedures, which might be a factor to consider.”

Bilateral hip replacement patient story

Cons of getting a bilateral joint replacement

  • Increased risk of complications (two surgical sites to tend to, greater chance of blood clots)
  • More likely to need a blood transfusion
  • Longer hospital stay and may not have same day discharge
  • More stress put on your cardiovascular system during surgery and recovery
  • Longer surgery, which increases risks of complications
  • Intensive recovery and rehab process


Depending on your insurance and recommendations from your total joint specialist, a bilateral joint replacement may not be an option for you. Your joint surgeon will help you choose the best option based on your health and insurance requirements.

Dr. Fisher said, “Different surgeons have different indications or comfort level performing bilateral joint replacements. In addition, you may have a medical condition that increases your chance of a complication or extended hospitalization. This may also preclude you from having bilateral replacements.”

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