Facts About Artificial Joint Infections

  • An increasing number of people are experiencing end-stage osteoarthritis. As a result, the number of hip and knee replacement surgeries is increasing. Of these surgeries, nearly one percent of the individuals will experience an artificial joint infection. And for some reason, these post-surgical infections are more likely to occur in the summer months. Why does any of this matter? Artificial joint infections are a major cause of artificial joint failure. (1) (2)


    Preventing infection and failure is extremely important. During surgery, surgeons go to great lengths to protect the surgical site from contamination in the operating room, even to the point of wearing self-contained space suits with breathing apparatuses. After surgery, patients are advised about the ongoing risk of infection especially after dental procedures or other potential sources of blood infections. In fact, prophylactic antibiotics are commonly used by those with an artificial joint who will be undergoing a dental procedure. (3)

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    If someone with an artificial joint is experiencing worsening pain, fevers, night sweats, malaise, or chills, then a doctor needs to rule out a deep prosthetic joint infection. In order to do so, laboratory studies are ordered, joint fluid is collected, and bones are scanned. If all these tests are normal, then an infection is very unlikely. (4) (5)


    Unfortunately, one percent of those with an artificial joint will get an infection. Once that happens, treatment in the form of antibiotics and hardware replacement is necessary. The infected prosthetic cannot remain in place because the bugs hide in the nooks and crannies of the hardware and are often unaffected by antibiotics. Oftentimes, hardware replacement has to be done in two stages: first the removal, next the installation of an entirely new artificial joint after the infection is completely cleared. (6) Bottom line is that artificial joint infections are best avoided.


    With an increasing number of people requiring joint replacements, infections are going to happen. Pre-emptive strikes with antibiotics, detection vigilance and aggressive, early treatment are the key to combating artificial joint infections, a leading cause of artificial joint failure.




    1. Orthopedics. 2014 Feb;37(2):e182-6

    2. Knee Surg Relat Res. 2014 Mar;26(1):13-9

    3. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2014 Jan 15;96(2):162-8

    4. Springerplus. 2013 Aug 27;2:401

    5. Instr Course Lect. 2013;62:349-61.

    6. Int Orthop. 2014 Mar 18



Published On: May 12, 2014