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Q&A with DR.

EVERYONE HAS QUESTIONS when considering joint an elective surgery for a reason; it’s to improve the
and replacement surgery. Here are some of the most quality of your life and allow you to continue to be
common questions and answers regarding hip and active and mobile. Some people have higher pain tol-
knee replacements. erances and can proceed in their lives with an arthritic
knee for a while. The most important thing is that you
Q: Which joint replacement has an easier recovery remain active to maintain a healthy heart. I tell patients
period, a knee or hip? that no one has died of a knee problem, but a signifi-
A: A total hip replacement is easier than a knee. One cant amount of people die from heart disease. When
reason being the surgery itself isn’t as complicated. As your knee pain begins to hinder you from maintaining
the largest joint in the body, a knee has more compo- normal exercise routines, daily life activities, and walk-
nents than a hip joint. The hip joint is a much simpler ing, it may be time to discuss having the total knee
joint and isn’t considered a “load bearing” joint. A replacement surgery with your doctor.
knee, however, must balance off-center loads, as well
Q: I need to have both knees replaced. Can I have
as move side-to-side. A hip replacement is a less
them replaced at the same time?
painful operation due to the soft tissue surrounding
the hip not being affected as much during surgery, in A: No, I personally don’t replace bilateral joints at the
comparison to a knee replacement. The procedure same time, nor do I recommend patients undergo
doesn’t require much physical therapy or rehab after- surgery to have both knees, or hips, replaced at the
wards, while a knee replacement’s success is depend- same time. Patients are at an increased risk for cardiac
ent on rehabilitation and therapy following surgery. death, or other complications, when replacing both
I advise my patients who require both a knee and joints at the same time.
hip replacement to replace whichever joint hurts worse There was a study released by researchers at Hospi-
first. However, I also inform them that they’ll recover tal for Special Surgery, that found patients at a higher
more quickly from a hip replacement, so it may be in risk of complications, and mortality, when having both
their best interest to do that surgery first and get it out knees replaced at the same time. The risks were even
of the way. higher for those with a history of medical problems,
Q: I have severe osteoarthritis in my knee, but I can like congestive heart failure or pulmonary hyperten-
still do most of my normal activities and my pain sion. Because of this study and other recent findings, I
isn’t too bad. I was recommended to have a total monitor my patients’ cardiac markers after surgery to
knee replacement but don’t know when the time see how long it takes them to return to normal. What
will be right. I’ve found is after about three days, cardiac levels re-
turn to normal. So, I recommend that my patients who
A: We treat people, not x-rays. Although your knee require bilateral knee or hip joint replacements wait at
may look severe through imaging, if it’s not hindering least three days before having a second surgery.
your daily life activities then it may not be the right time This way, you reduce risk for possible morbidity and
to undergo surgery. Total knee replacement surgery is mortality, making it a safer option for everyone.

Each year, Dr. Heekin and supporters of the Heekin
Institute of Orthopedic Research join to celebrate
joint mobility. The annual Joint Replacement
One-Mile Fun Walk includes local vendors, break-
fast and music, with an enjoyable route along the
riverfront at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. All pro-
ceeds benefit the Heekin Institute of Orthopedic
Research, a non-profit organization that maintains
the areas largest independent joint registry.