Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Arthritis Forum

Bilateral knee arthroscopy ?

I am a 45 year old female. For several years, I have suffered from Grade IV osteoarthritis in both knees, as revealed by MRIs and CAT scans that were done in June 2006. My initial problems were primarily in my left knee. After several unsuccessful attempts at treatment (i.e. PT, Synvisc injections, steroid injections, medication), I ended up having what I would describe as an ENORMOUSLY successful arthroscopy on my left knee in January 2007, which for a long time left me ALMOST completely pain free! I won’t go into exactly what was found/done during the procedure itself, since I don’t think that is actually relevant to my real questions described below. My doctor did warn me at the time, however, that, in his experience, I “would be back in a few years”, either needing to repeat the procedure on the same knee, or needing it done on my right one.

Over the last 6-8 months, I have been developing increasingly bad problems again, this time with BOTH of my knees, and thus far, all treatment options (basically the same ones tried before) have failed. Therefore, I am planning to consult with my orthopedist on having another arthroscopy done, this time on BOTH knees at the same time. My questions are not really about the potential overall benefits/drawbacks of the surgery itself, since it was so successful last time, and I have plenty of information on that both from prior experience and other sources.

Arrow However, I WOULD love to hear from anyone in the medical profession or anyone who has HAD a bilateral knee arthroscopy with any comments you'd like to offer/share. I am, however, particularly interested in anyone who can offer opinions or answers with regard to the specific questions below.

If you are a medical professional doctor :

Question Specifically with regard to having both rather than only one knee done, what are the basic pros and cons, including any additional potential risks/benefits of having BOTH knees done at the same time rather than only one?

Question How common and/or advisable is it to have this done in comparison with having only one knee done?

Question Generally speaking, does the fact that you are having both knees done (as opposed to only one) in and of itself substantially affect the chance for a “successful” outcome on either knee, particularly since you don't have the advantage of having one "untouched" knee to work with/use/lean on, etc., after the procedure during recovery (I hesitate to use the term "good knee", since that doesn't really apply in my case)?

Question Post-surgery, I will have a rather substantial flight of stairs (about 13 or so?) to climb to get to my apartment. Would it still be possible for me to have surgery on both knees at the same time and do this, with assistance (but without being carried, obviously)? Please note that I did NOT have any trouble at all climbing them when I had only one knee done, but I DID have my other knee for “help” that time, obviously.

For other patients/arthritis suffers stretcher , I’d love to hear from you as well if you had a bilateral knee arthroscopy, particularly with regard to:

Question Comments on your overall experience/success rate on both knees

Question Whether you feel having both knees done at the same time substantially affected, positively or negatively, your recovery period or your overall results with either one or both knees, over time

Question If you had it to do again, would you (i.e. would you have BOTH knees done at the same time again), and why?

Thanks so much in advance to all who respond. thanks
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First Helper Cpw57

replied January 17th, 2009
You have mentioned that you have grade 4 osteoarthritis and had pain relief for one year following this. I presume that the arthritis is restricted to your knee caps otherwise you couldn't have coped well for over a year with this degree of change in the main knee joint.
Arthrscopy has not been proved to be effective in the treatment of knee arthritis. The basic problem is with the knee caps and they need addressing.
There are a number of reconstructive procedures to alleviate knee cap or patellofemoral arthritis pain.

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replied March 12th, 2009
I had a bilateral knee ARTHROSCOPY in the last 2 days, I came home in a Taxi climbed
13 steps to my flat with no prob OK you have got to go careful and hold on the Bannister {don't forget they have injected pain killers in your knee during the Operation}. The next day I was in quite a lot of pain. But today with the help of my crutches I went out down the stairs and went for a 10 Min walk and I have been doing all the exercises I was given. OK you may be a bit wobbly on the leg which you have to put your main support on. But I can honestly say I have been in a lot more pain before this operation with my knees. Keep dragging the worst leg and limping on the other. I live on my own and have no family around.and I live on steep hills.for the 1st time in 4 years I walked slowly up an down a steep Hill, and never felt like a sledge hammer was smacking me across the knee caps, I was dreading having this Operation and having to cope on my own. But Go for it get it done and all out the way in one fowl swoop,i'm no longer even using my crutches around my flat. Good luck with your Op
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replied June 12th, 2009
bilateral knees
My name is tracey and i am a 45 year old woman who has just been diagnosed with widespread degenerate and inflammatory disorder, i have this in both knees and wrists so i cant even walk with crutches, my surgeon is not convinced that an arthroscopy is likely to provide any long term symptomatic benefit and due to my age knee replacements would not benefit at this time because it will only last 10 to 15 years and would have to be done again, i have had this in my wrists since 1988 and in my knees for the last two years and have been told its going to get worst in the next couple of years.
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replied December 7th, 2009
bilateral arthroscopy
Hi i am a 32 year old female and i have to have a bilateral arthroscopy on wednesday for both knees. I am rather nervous and i am sure it wont be as painful as the pain i experience in everyday living. Would I need crutches and for how long? I have 15 back steps and about 4 front steps, guess i will use the front door as from wednesday!!!!!! ha ha
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replied January 9th, 2010
I am a 61 year old female. I had bilateral arthroscopy in 2007...I was in terrific pain the first 3 days. After that getting around got a little easier. I would not think a doctor would want you to do stairs right away. I had alot of swelliing in my right knee but with therapy and ice etc it finally got better. I am older than some of the ones responding and we all have different levels of tolerance. My dh went hunting 3 days after having one knee scoped. I am having a repeat on the left knee due to more tearing from a trauma to the knee. I am sure it is easier to do one at a time. I made my decision to do both at once based on having only one anesthesia and less medical costs and time given up for healing and pt. I don't know that I would recommend it but it worked for me. I do believe it took a little longer to heal though. You could say I "didn't have a good leg to stand on". I wish you well whatever you decide.
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replied November 8th, 2010
I may be not quite the story you are looking for but I will tell it anyway. I am a 27 year old male and had the bilateral procedure done on both knees last thursday. My case is a bit unique. I had damaged my right knee plying football in 1999. Thats right 11 years ago. I was placed on a waiting list while living with the pain. due to the long waite and living my life as usual my left knee/leg had to compensate for the right. When I finally got my procedure done the doctor (who was not my orginal doctor, he was #4) was shocked that i was sitll able to run a little letalone walk. They (doctor and staff) were great. 4 days later and I can now walk without the use of crutches, in a little disconfort but nothing like the pain i lived with for 11 years. I dont know if this helps you out at all but good luck.
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replied October 12th, 2011
im a 40yr old male and had bilateral knee op in april of 2010 everything was fine untill 4 nights ago when my left knee locked and i have been unable to straighten my leg and am in imense pain does anyone have any similar stories/suggestions my doctors ad hospital staff are taking foreber to get back to me with even an appt as of yet so any help ideas are welcome thanks
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replied January 20th, 2012
Bilateral Knee Arthroscopy
Hi - I am a 45 year old female and just had a double bilateral knee arthroscopy on Monday. They had me up and walking (only a few steps) 2 hours after the op and I went home the same day. (no crutches or stick) Did make me laugh, the literature they gave me suggested tips for walking up stairs ...'place the unoperated knee on the stair first'!!! hmmm - little tricky when had both done!! - But I managed. Ibuprofen and paracetamol throughout the day (2 of 1, then 2 hours later 2 of the other seemed to get me through) Now day 4 and discomfort is easing with each day and I can get about more and more - rest rest rest as much as you can for the first couple of days. Hope this helps
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replied September 16th, 2012
Bilateral Orthoscopy
Hi I have posted this in response so that it may help others in the same situation.I too have just had a double knee arthoscopy with partial medial memsectomy and was out the same day without the need for crutches.I wouldnt hesitate at having both done,prior to the operation i was in agony with my knees to the point that i was using crutches so my outlook was that they cannot be any worse than they are now.It is now the day after my op and as well as doing the physio exercises i have managed to walk unaided 200yds although in slight discomfort.I realise everyone is different it was my first time having surgery at the age of 41
Hope this helps
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replied June 3rd, 2015
Experience varies
I had an arthroscopy on one knee back in 2003 and the experience was not good. I was in agony the day after and had after effects from the anaesthetic. It involved weeks of physiotherapy to restore the knee function.

Well, I just returned from hospital after a bilateral arthroscopy yesterday for three meniscus tears. The difference is unbelievable. I walked up a staircase in the hospital and left the facility unaided with minimal discomfort. Amazing.

The long-term problem is that I have osteoarthritis and am already walking with "bone-on-bone" on the lateral side of both knees.
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replied July 23rd, 2015
Hi DAve

How are you feeling right now, 5 weeks post surgery? Could you please tell me how things went since surgery day? I could have been the one writing your post. Had 3 previous scopes in the early 2000 and had rough rehab/post surgeries. I just got a call yesterday for bilateral this upcoming Tuesday. I am very nervous and scared. I am very active and the thought of being in pain and out of commission for weeks scares me. Would love to hear from you. Need to make a decision...yikes!

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replied July 24th, 2015
Hi Jose

I had two issues, deep bruising on the one leg which only came out a couple of days later and a drain wound on the other knee that "leaked" blood and muck for about a week.

My surgeon uses a tourniquet when operating. The physio said that the bruising was due to the tourniquet being too tight. The surgeon denied this and said it was where there just happened to be internal bleeding during the operation.

I only had 3 sessions of Physio and was given a lot of exercises to do at home. It is important to do these religiously to achieve a quick recovery.

Overall, 5 weeks later and I have completely forgotten about the op! My knee function is now better than I have experienced in years and I am very happy with the outcome.

Like you, I was terrified before and now I can't believe why I was concerned. I must say knee replacement operations are a completely different story, though. I will certainly think long and hard before going through with one.

All the best.

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replied August 29th, 2017
Hello - I am 57 and very active singles tennis player. March, 2017, Orthopedic said after reading MRI, surgery immediately. Couldn't schedule til July. July arrived, pain & swelling in both knees became so severe, I was walking with a cane and wearing knee braces. Opted for bilateral knee scopes. Surgery procedure: Bone regrooved for patella, spurs & debrisment on BOTH knees. In addition, Left knee had 8cm Bakers Cyst aspirated and knee joint is bone-on-bone. Right knee - partial meniscus removal. Surgery took 1hr 45min. Narcotics for 3 days then weaned to 1 a day. Crutches for 3 days then used walking stick for 3 weeks. Stairs were rough until 5th week. With bilateral scopes.. take 2 weeks off work. I took 1 and really needed 2 weeks to heal. Stamina mostly. My job requires driving & getting in and out of car quite a bit. Don't rush to overdo - I was back taking hot yoga week later. It helped stretch hamstring but be careful.. it may have delayed my recovery trying to be too active. Body takes 4 weeks to heal & another 2 to solidify. At 6 week mark. Doing great. Right knee little stiffer than left, but I can walk with little to no pain now. Occasional pain with little swelling - Usually after wearing low heels. Ortho said expect 12 weeks for complete recovery. PT twice a week for first month, now 1 time a week. Swimming has been excellent. Everyday need to do bicycle, stretching & strengthening exercises - that is crucial. To answer - YES I would do bilateral arthroscopy again. But Before Consdering it ask yourself 3 things: do you have patience with recovery'; due diligence with exercising each day & utilizing PT; and do you have self-motivation. Answer yes to all, then do bilateral scopes...
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User Profile
replied September 19th, 2017
Yes, I agree with you that self motivation will work. Along with bilateral arthroscopy dont you think that some support must be need for muscles so that your ligaments and delicate tendons remain in correct position for recovery?
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