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Safety Outweighs Savings in Hip Surgery

Posted on: 06/17/2002
In large medical centers, doctors are able to replace joints two at a time now. When arthritis destroys the hip joint, it often affects both hips, not just one. Surgery to replace the joint can be done one at a time or both at the same time. If both hip joints are replaced in one surgery, it is called a single-stage bilateral operation.

Replacing both hip joints together reduces the cost of two separate operations. There is less exposure to anesthesia for the patient. The hospital stay is shorter, and the time away from work is less.

Safety is the biggest factor in deciding whether to replace the hip joints separately or both at the same time. When both are done at the same time, there is an increased risk of dangerous blood clots. And the risk of infection is greater because it can occur in two separate wounds. When safety is a concern, the savings is second in importance.

Only certain patients are able to have a single-stage bilateral hip joint replacement. Good health is required. They must be free of any other diseases such as diabetes or heart or lung disease. Any previous history of blood clots prevents a single-staged operation.

William Macaulay, MD, et al. Single-Stage Bilateral Total Hip Arthroplasty. In The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. May/June 2002. Vol. 10. No. 3. Pp. 217-221.

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