Complications and outcomes of single-stage bilateral total knee arthroplasty

Geoffrey Horne, Peter Devane, Kathryn Adams
ANZ Journal of Surgery 2005, 75 (9): 734-8

BACKGROUND: A recent literature review by the senior authors of this study revealed that simultaneous bilateral knee arthroplasty is uncommon and controversial. Reported complications include myocardial infarction, deep venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolus, thromboembolic complications, pseudo-obstruction, postoperative ileus and death. This present study was designed to identify complications of single-stage bilateral total knee arthroplasty to compare with reports in the international literature.

METHODS: A retrospective study of 40 cases of simultaneous total knee arthroplasty carried out by the senior authors at Wellington over the last 10 years, examined details of surgery, anaesthesia, preoperative and postoperative management to identify the occurrence of complications. Thirty-one patients completed an Oxford Knee Score, a EuroQuol-5 Dimension (EQ-5D) questionnaire and reported their experience of the bilateral procedure.

RESULTS: Complications reported in the international literature did not occur in the patients studied. Complications that did occur included urinary retention, wound infections and oedema of the limbs or knees. The mean Oxford Knee Score was 20.79. In 2003 the New Zealand national mean for primary total knee arthroplasty was 23.35. The EQ-5D revealed high patient satisfaction and good functional status.

CONCLUSIONS: While the outcomes and cost benefits of single stage bilateral replacement are established, the risk of complications remains. This study establishes the low complication rate associated with this procedure in the senior authors' hands, and documents the high patient satisfaction. The study demonstrates that, in selected patients, simultaneous bilateral knee replacement surgery can be performed with good outcomes without a definite increase in perioperative risk.

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