No surgical procedure is without risks, however. A small percentage of patients undergoing hip replacement may develop an infection after the operation. Joint replacement infections may occur in the wound or deep around the artificial implants. An infection may develop during your hospital stay or after you go home. Joint replacement infections can even occur years after your surgery.
Cause of infections of hip joint replacements
A hip joint may become infected during the time of surgery, or anywhere from weeks to years after the surgery. The most common ways bacteria enter the body include:
- Through breaks or cuts in the skin
- During major dental procedures (such as a tooth extraction or root canal)
- Through wounds from other surgical procedures
Some people are at a higher risk for developing infections after a joint replacement procedure. Factors that increase the risk for infection include:
- Immune deficiencies (such as HIV or lymphoma)
- Diabetes mellitus
- Peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation to the hands and feet)
- Immunosuppressive treatments (such as chemotherapy or corticosteroids)
Prevent Infections of hip joint replacements
After the operation, the risk of developing an infection from an outside source is reduced, but there is still a risk of developing an infection from the bloodstream. Because of this, patients with a joint replacement implant should take antibiotics before invasive procedures such as dental work, colonoscopies, etc. It is known that these procedures may cause a transient risk of bacteria entering the bloodstream. Antibiotics will help control this and prevent joint infection.
What happens when a hip joint replacement becomes infected?
When a total joint replacement becomes infected, it may loosen, become painful, and need to be removed. Unfortunately, even if the implant is washed clean during surgery, most types of infections require removal of the implant to cure the infection.