Understanding Treatment for
Artificial Joint Infections

What are artificial joint infections?

Joint replacement surgery is a remarkable procedure that, for most people, significantly relieves pain and dramatically improves their lives. However, while the percentage is small, approximately .5 – 1% of people who undergo joint replacement surgery will develop an artificial joint infection. Usually, these infections occur in the wound itself or deep around your artificial implant. Infections may develop during your stay at the hospital, within the first two months in the course of your recovery from surgery, or even years after you go home.

What are the symptoms of artificial joint infections?

If you develop an infection immediately after joint replacement surgery, it’s likely that you’ll experience pain, redness, swelling at the joint, drainage from the wound, or limited range of motion. Those who develop infections later usually notice a gradual onset of joint pain — without fever or other visible signs of infection.

How does ID Care diagnose artificial joint infections?

The pain associated with artificial joint infections is often similar to other complications of joint replacement surgery — this means you’ll need to turn to an infectious disease specialist to ensure you receive an accurate diagnosis. At ID Care, our joint infection specialists will perform an in-depth analysis of your joint’s fluid. By examining the number of white blood cells and testing for bacteria and other organisms, our team can identify or rule out artificial joint infection.

How does ID Care treat artificial joint infections?

When bacteria adhere to the solid surface of the artificial joint, a biofilm develops. Similar to a shield, this biofilm protects the bacteria affecting your joint. Because of this biofilm, treatment can be arduous and usually involves a long course of intravenous (IV) antibiotics or surgery to remove the infected tissue. Using the most effective antibiotics according to your specific needs, our team will help get your infection under control. Then, if necessary, we will refer you to a surgeon to implant a new prosthesis. However, in some cases, it may not be possible to replace the prosthetic joint, and surgery may be recommended to fuse the bones.

SOURCE: Mayo Clinic