Simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasties: who decides?

A V Lombardi, T H Mallory, R A Fada, J F Hartman, S G Capps, C A Kefauver, K Dodds, J B Adams
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 2001, (392): 319-29
The purpose of the current retrospective review was to compare the results of 1498 patients having 1090 simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasties and 958 unilateral total knee arthroplasties in a 3-year period, focusing on perioperative complications, length of hospital stay, and discharge disposition. Gender, age, diagnosis, and weight were similar between the groups. Patients undergoing simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasties had statistically significant higher amounts of intraoperative blood loss, with more patients requiring blood transfusion, and a higher average number of units of blood transfused compared with patients undergoing unilateral total knee arthroplasty. Overall, a significantly higher incidence of gastrointestinal complications was reported in patients who had simultaneous bilateral knee arthroplasties compared with patients who had unilateral knee arthroplasty. Comparing age subgroups within the unilateral group revealed significantly higher incidences of pulmonary, neurologic, cardiac, and genitourinary complications among patients 80 years or older versus patients younger than 80 years. Patients having simultaneous bilateral arthroplasties who were 80 years or older had significantly higher incidences of pulmonary, neurologic, and cardiac complications than patients younger than 80 years in that same group. These results suggest that age, not procedure, has a more significant role in the perioperative morbidity of total knee arthroplasty. Based on the results from the current study and previous literature documenting patient preference, patient satisfaction, efficacy, and outcomes comparable with those of patients having unilateral total knee arthroplasty, the authors continue to offer patients the option of simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasties.

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