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Prevention of Infection After Joint Replacement

A very small percentage of patients who undergo joint replacement may develop an infection around the joint. This infection is called a periprosthetic infection.

How does a Periprosthetic Infection Occur?

Your immune system is usually able to protect the body from bacteria or other infectious organisms by attacking it through the lymph system or blood stream. However, your prosthesis, which is made of metal or plastic, does not have any blood vessels or lymphatic drainage, making it difficult for the immune system to gain access to and destroy these organisms. The bacteria can then multiply and cause failure of the knee prosthesis.

Causes of Periprosthetic Infections

A periprosthetic infection may occur immediately after the surgery or even many years later. The most common way bacteria or any other infectious organism reach the knee joint is through:

  • Breaks in the skin.
  • Dental procedures such as tooth extraction.
  • Other surgeries.
  • Risk factors for Periprosthetic Infections.

Factors that increase your risk of developing a periprosthetic infection include:

  • Immunodeficiency disorders (e.g. HIV or lymphoma) .
  • Diabetes .
  • Peripheral vascular disease.
  • Obesity.
  • Immunosuppressive treatments.