Bilateral total hip replacement surgery replaces both hips at the same time, generally due to arthritic pain and stiffness. It is not terribly common for arthritis in both hips to progress at the same rate, such that a bilateral hip replacement is necessary. But it does certainly happen on occasion.
There are pros and cons to be considered before deciding on a bilateral hip replacement surgery. Patients who might have trouble tolerating a long surgery or long anesthetic might be best advised to have two separate hip replacement surgeries. A bilateral hip replacement takes double the time on the table and under anesthesia – about three to four hours. Be sure to talk with your surgeon about cardiovascular, pulmonary or other health problems which might make longer surgery inappropriate.
The decision to proceed with a bilateral hip replacement can be a very practical one. Recovery with one newly operated and replaced hip and one painful and arthritic hip can be difficult. It’s true that early post-op physical therapy and exercise can be hampered when there are two new hips that are difficult to maneuver. You will be able to bear weight on them more than adequately though – an important part of recovery.
A solid support system is important to recovery from any hip replacement surgery but it can be vital to recovery from bilateral hip surgery. Whether your support comes from hired nursing and therapeutic support or from friends and family, you will need ample physical and emotional support for several weeks following a bilateral surgery.