Background: Previous studies have demonstrated an increased rate of perioperative complications and morbidity following simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasty compared with the rate following unilateral total knee arthroplasty. The purpose of this study was to compare the rate of perioperative complications and morbidity associated with simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasty with that associated with unilateral total knee arthroplasty.
Methods: The records on all bilateral total knee arthroplasties performed between January 1994 and June 2000 and unilateral total knee arthroplasties performed between January 1995 and June 2000 were retrospectively reviewed. The records on 514 unilateral total knee arthroplasties and 255 bilateral total knee arthroplasties were analyzed to determine demographic information, preoperative comorbidities, perioperative complications, and thirty-day and one-year mortality rates.
Results: The rates of some perioperative complications, including myocardial infarction, postoperative confusion, and the need for intensive monitoring, were greater after the bilateral arthroplasties. However, the thirty-day and one-year mortality rates and the risks of pulmonary embolism, infection, and deep venous thrombosis were similar for the two groups.
Conclusions: The risk of perioperative complications associated with bilateral simultaneous total knee arthroplasty was slightly increased compared with that associated with unilateral total knee arthroplasty, but the mortality rates were similar. Ultimately, the decision to proceed with simultaneous knee replacement should depend on patient preference through informed choice.
Level of Evidence: Therapeutic study, Level III-2 (retrospective cohort study). See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.