According to New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer, knee and hip replacements are two of the most commonly performed elective operations today. And for the majority of patients, these surgeries relieve pain and help them live fuller, more active lives.
However, no surgical procedure is without its risks. A small percentage (roughly about 1 in 100) of patients who undergo hip or knee replacement surgeries may develop an infection after the operation, which may occur in the wound or around the artificial implants. An infection may develop during a patient’s hospital stay or after they return home. Joint replacement infections can even happen years after surgery.
Your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon wants to help patients understand why joint replacements may become infected and what the symptoms of infection are.
Description: Any infection in your body can spread to your joint replacement. Infections are caused by bacteria, and although bacteria are abundant in our gastrointestinal tract and on our skin, they are usually kept away by our immune system.
However, because joint replacements are constructed of metal and plastic, it is tough for our immune system to attack bacteria that make their way to these implants. Your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon warns that if bacteria gain access to the implants, they can multiply and result in an infection.
Despite antibiotics and preventative treatments, patients with infected joint replacements often require surgery in order to cure the infection.
Examples of total knee implants: Joint replacement implants are typically made of metal alloys and strong, durable plastic called polyethylene.
Cause: A total joint may become infected during the time of surgery, or anywhere from weeks to years post-surgery. The most common ways bacteria enter the body are breaks or cuts in the skin, major dental procedures, and through wounds from other surgical procedures.
Some people are at a higher risk for developing infections following a joint replacement procedure. According to your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon, factors that increase the risk for infection include:
- Immune deficiencies;
- Poor circulation;
- Chemotherapy or corticosteroids.
Symptoms: Signs and symptoms of an infected joint replacement include:
- Increased pain or stiffness in a previously well-functioning joint;
- Warmth and redness around the wound;
- Wound drainage;
- Fevers, chills and night sweats.
Doctor Examination: When total joint infection is suspected, early diagnosis and proper treatment by your New Orleans orthopedic surgeon will increase the chances that the implants can be saved. Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss your medical history and conduct a detailed physical examination.
If you want to know if joint replacement surgery is right for you, call the office of New Orleans orthopedic surgeon Dr. Richard Meyer today to schedule a consultation.