An infection can occur after any kind of surgery, be it a hair transplant procedure. At this juncture, we are interested in flipping pages concerning an infection after a knee replacement. Main topics concern;
What is an infection after a knee replacement?
• Risk factors
An Infection After a Knee Replacement Surgery!
A knee replacement surgery is an operation conducted on a diseased or injured knee. In most cases, this surgery is a last resort for living a quality life. Although rare, an infection can occur after a knee replacement surgery and requires early medical intervention.
An infection occurs when bacteria enter the operated knee through the wound. This infection can also occur around the artificial prosthesis and in this case, it is difficult to treat it. According to a study, it found that only 1 individual in 100 had developed an infection after a knee replacement.
Generally, the opening (incision) made at the joint may act as a passage for the bacteria after a surgery. The bacteria may cause an infection on the surface or can also extend to the artificial implant.
Naturally, the body’s immune system works hard to fight off this infection, but may fail in case the bacteria increases. The artificial implant itself can also make it hard for the immune system to fight an infection since it is a prosthesis (artificial).
Symptoms of an Infection After a Knee Replacement
A patient may experience any or a number of the following symptoms
• Fever- above 100°F (37.8°C)
• Night sweats or chills
• Tenderness and warmth around the joint
• Draining (grey liquid)
• An inability to move
Note: An infection can develop during the recovery period or after recovery. In other cases, it can develop several months or years after a knee replacement surgery.
Risk Factors for An Infection After a Knee Replacement Surgery
Although an infection can develop in any individual after a knee replacement surgery, some individuals have an increased risk. The following can increase a patient’s risk for an infection;
• Smoking or second-hand smoke
• Immune deficiencies (HIV, cancer, lymphoma)
• BMI- over 50
• Recurrent urinary infections
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Underwent a knee replacement surgery before
• A previous infection after a knee replacement
• Dermatitis or psoriasis
• Dental issues
• Poor circulation in the feet and the hands
How is an Infection after knee replacement Diagnosed?
A mere physical exam can help an orthopaedic doctor detect an infection. Other diagnostic approaches include;
• A blood test
• Joint Aspiration- a fluid sample is drained from the knee and tested in a laboratory
• Imaging systems- these include an X-ray, an MRI or a CT scan.
How is This Infection Treated
The treatment approach generally depends on the type of infection. A superficial infection can be eliminated with the use of oral drugs such as antibiotics.
An extended infection will automatically require surgical intervention and these surgical approaches include;
• A Debridement
This approach involves washing the artificial joint after which it is placed back. The surgeon may also replace the spacers or the plastic liners in case required.
b) A Staged Surgery
A staged surgery involves a number of procedures that task the surgeon to remove the prosthesis and then replace it.
Precaution must be taken before the surgery and preventive measures after the surgery will help you eliminate any chance of an infection. Some of the basic preventive measures include;
• Taking antibiotics
• Using chlorhexidine
• Keeping the operated knee cleaning
• The surgery period should be as short as possible
• Only sterilized instruments must be used
• Screening for bacteria
A deep infection after a knee replacement may require a patient to undergo a series of surgeries to eliminate the infection. This obviously interferes with the prosthesis’ performance.
Deep infections are generally difficult to treat and with that, it is important to see a doctor as soon as you experience any of the mentioned symptoms.