Double hip replacement-- advisable?
September 23, 2011 1:09 PM   Subscribe

My mother is scheduled for a hip replacement next week; both hips badly need the surgery and she was originally planning to get them done with three months recovery time between the two operations. However, her doctor has raised the possibility of getting both hips done at the same time, and she's decided to go for it. Does anyone have any experience with having both hips done at the same time, or knows an elderly person who opted for both at once? What was their/your experience? Would you recommend it?

My mother is in overall excellent health; before the arthritis set in, a year or two ago, she was still going to aerobics two or three times a week. The surgeon was going to do the single operation using only a spinal, as her condition is so good (her bone density is excellent, heart and lungs as well). She's never been sick for any length of time, and having a chronic condition has been a real struggle for her; the arthritis in her hips has moved with scary speed, worsening week by week until now when she's basically immobilized and in constant pain (she was bumped to the top of the list in wait list in August). She's desperate to get to the other side of this and I understand, but I'm worried about the double operation. Feedback gratefully received.
posted by jokeefe to Health & Fitness (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I should mention that my mother is 78 years old. Thanks.
posted by jokeefe at 1:11 PM on September 23, 2011

I can speak to half of your question. A co-worker of mine had both hips replaced, 6 months apart, and really wishes that he had done both of them at the same time. He said that since he was in bed anyway for 2 months, he might as well have been healing both of them.

He's only 27, but there's one point of anecdata for you.
posted by sauril at 1:13 PM on September 23, 2011

My mom (62) did both of them at once because her insurance offered to send her to a swanky recover hospital if she did. With 10 days of twice and day PT and then 4 days a week after that, she was up and around 3 weeks after her surgery and playing golf again 2 months after that.

I'd say the first couple of days home from the hospital were roughest (as it's still a pretty major surgery), but after that she bounced back pretty quick. Definitely worth it to do both at once.
posted by Oktober at 1:31 PM on September 23, 2011

I have anecdote from the parent of a friend who had both done and was very happy. She is a very active Senior and couldn't stand the thought of laying in bed when she could be out and about. She was thrilled that she only had to go through it once. I don't know anything else about the procedure or recovery.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:34 PM on September 23, 2011

Here's another vote for both at once. My much older cousin did both at once and was up and walking with her intensive PT soon afterwards.

I think the key question is: What kind of rehab/PT facility will you/she be able to afford afterwards, and is insurance going to cover that cost? Honestly, she'll need a solid two weeks in the facility to make it workable.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:42 PM on September 23, 2011

To add to the anecdata: my grandmother also deeply regretted not doing both at once, at age 80.
posted by obliquicity at 1:46 PM on September 23, 2011

I have a family member whose knee replacement surgeon strongly recommended that she *not* do both knees at the same time. He stated that the risk of complications when doing both knees is significantly higher. (My family member is around twenty years younger than your mother.) I would expect the same thing from hip surgeries.

(IANAD. But surely there's data on these outcomes, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence? Obviously doing both at once is more convenient than the alternative, but I would check the actual outcome data.)
posted by pie ninja at 1:51 PM on September 23, 2011

Just realized I should probably add that my family member in question has one knee quite a bit worse than the other, so waiting on one joint may be more feasible for her than it would be for your mother. Anyway. Short version: Does your mother's surgeon have data on the relative outcomes? Because that's what I'd be looking for.
posted by pie ninja at 1:54 PM on September 23, 2011

My mom ( aged 66 ) had both knees replaced at the same time. She was so glad that she did. The first few days of recovery were rough for sure, but she was able to do PT for both knees at once. She is a teacher, and had the surgery done at the beginning of summer. Two months later she was back teaching school, standing on her feet for 10-12 hours a day and going up and down stairs with ease. Her Dr told her that sometimes when people opt for just one knee or hip, the pain of the recovery scare them off of scheduling the second surgery, so he felt it was better overall to do them both at once.
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 2:00 PM on September 23, 2011

My wife's grandfather got knee work done one at a time and never really got back up to speed. My wife is pretty convinced he'd have lived longer, healthier if he'd gotten them done at the same time rather than having to recover from the surgery twice.

The replacement joints don't heal, though, so if one is still in OK shape, don't replace it just because you're in the neighborhood.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 2:14 PM on September 23, 2011

My mother did both hips at the same time, and said afterward that if she had not, she never would have gone through with the other one.

So, +1 for doing both hips together.
posted by eas98 at 2:19 PM on September 23, 2011

Well as my Dad said about doing them both at once at the age of 73, "hip, hip, Horray!"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:54 PM on September 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

My mother wished she had done both at the same time (one at 77, one a year later) as she picked up a C. difficile infection during one of her hospital stays. The less one is in the hospital, the better.

I cared for her post-surgery and can't see that having both done at the same time would make that much of a difference in healing or physical therapy.
posted by readery at 3:31 PM on September 23, 2011

My mother-in-law, early 80s, only did one, about eight months ago. And just a tip from what I learned from watching her process: A huge part of the outcome is how committed a patient can be to the post-recovery rehab. She was doing great in the first month after the surgery, then really slacked off, didn't follow doctor's orders, refused to use a walker when it was necessary which led to falls, etc. It's been a big bummer to watch.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:40 PM on September 23, 2011

My mother had both hips done under a spinal at age 78, a year and a half ago. She's very glad she opted for that rather than one by one. Her first few days were rough and she needed to dedicate herself to intensive physio, but she was a totally new woman and completely pain free three months later.
posted by lunaazul at 4:08 PM on September 23, 2011

My mother (at 63) had both done at once, and she also said she'd never have had the second operation if she'd done them one at a time.

I was pretty astonished at the recovery rate. I was really astonished by the difference of her 'quality of life'. Who knew that two bad hips could slow you down that much.
posted by Sphinx at 4:31 PM on September 23, 2011

What kind of rehab/PT facility will you/she be able to afford afterwards, and is insurance going to cover that cost? Honestly, she'll need a solid two weeks in the facility to make it workable.

We're in Canada, thank jeebus, so we don't have to worry about cost. She's going to a nursing/rehab facility directly afterwards and can stay until she's ready to manage on her own.

Does your mother's surgeon have data on the relative outcomes? Because that's what I'd be looking for.

I'll be looking at that too, but I think what I was hoping for was what you all have kindly offered me: reassurance, from personal experience, that the recovery won't be unbearably painful and that doing both at once is bearable and even advisable. Thank you all so much.

Her operation will have to be rescheduled for mid-October, as she'll have to change hospitals and it's a four hour procedure instead of a two hour one, but I'm looking forward to reading her these answers and even more so to the day that she can walk across a room with ease.
posted by jokeefe at 8:06 PM on September 23, 2011

Glad to hear you're comfortable with the decision. According to my surgeon, as well as two 75+ year old friends, hips are a piece of cake compared to knees. Asking around the Sr. Citizen's Center gets a 6 to 1 vote for doing both hips at once. (Seriously--I took some zucchini down tonight and took a straw poll.)
posted by BlueHorse at 10:42 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

And this, folks, is why I love Metafilter. I'll let my mom know that the Zucchini poll was firmly in her corner!
posted by jokeefe at 12:48 AM on September 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just a quick update: My mom had the surgery at the end of September. After a week in hospital, she moved to a nursing facility where she has been doing her physio, and she is tentatively scheduled to return home on December 1st.

She's hugely pleased with the decision to get both hips done at the same time. It's been a long haul, but she hasn't experienced too much pain-- not compared with what she was in before-- and she's now walking, practicing going up stairs, and is getting ready to resume her life. Thanks all here for the advice; she was especially pleased with the Zucchini poll results, and can affirm them.
posted by jokeefe at 10:06 AM on November 24, 2011

Further update, three months on: my mother's life is almost back to normal. Getting both hips done at the same time was absolutely the right decision: the recovery was long, but the results are worth it. I'd recommend the same for anyone else facing this question.
posted by jokeefe at 9:04 AM on March 5, 2012


It's good to know you can still trust those senior citizens ;)
posted by BlueHorse at 4:33 PM on March 6, 2012

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