If You’re Having Surgery on Both Sides

Doctor talking with patientMost people who undergo knee or hip replacement surgery have the procedure done on just one side (either the right or the left). This choice has to do with the fact that their symptoms - usually pain, stiffness and limited mobility - are mostly one-sided.

But if your symptoms are occurring on both sides, or if tests show serious problems in both joints, your surgeon may recommend you have both knees or both hips replaced in a single operation. This is known as "bilateral" joint replacement surgery. (Some surgeons may recommend a "staged" procedure where both joints are replaced within a short time period - usually three months - but in two separate operations.)

Why would someone decide to have bilateral knee or hip replacement surgery? Are there any advantages to having both joints replaced during just one operation? This depends on many things - why you need surgery, how severe your symptoms are in each joint, how much help you have at home and your work situation, to name a few. This is something to discuss with your surgeon.

To learn more about the special needs and concerns related to bilateral knee or hip replacement surgery, please click on the sections below:

Replacing both knees at the same time
Replacing both hips at the same time

ImportantIMPORTANT: The information and advice on this website was developed for people having "primary," one-sided knee or hip replacement surgery. Even so, most of it also applies to people like you who are having bilateral surgery. But there are some exceptions. These tips and warnings are highlighted by the use of a "bilateral surgery" symbol . As you navigate the website, be sure to click on these symbols whenever you see them and read the special information for bilateral surgery patients.