The Bee's Knees

The Bee's Knees

Infection and Knee Replacement in 2019

March 12, 2019

Threats to a Proper Knee Surgery Recovery (Infection and Knee Replacement)
This is Part 2 of a series of articles on threats to a proper knee surgery recovery. In this installment we discuss infection and knee replacement. I encourage you to explore the other articles which you can find by clicking on the link below.

Deep Vein Thrombosis and Knee Replacement

So let's get started. There are two types of infections to think about when it comes to knee replacement: 'Superficial' and 'Deep'.

Superficial Infection

After knee replacement surgery, it’s possible to develop an infection in the incision. Doctors call these superficial, minor, or early-onset infections. Superficial infections usually occur soon after your surgery. You may develop a minor infection in the hospital or when you go home. The treatment is simple, but a minor infection can lead to a major one if it’s not treated.

Deep Knee Infection

You can also develop an infection around your artificial knee, also called a prosthesis or implant. Doctors call these deep, major, delayed-onset, or late-onset infections. Deep infections are serious and can occur weeks or even years after your knee replacement surgery. The treatment may involve several steps. You may need surgery to remove the infected artificial knee.

A knee replacement infection may develop in the wound after surgery. It may also occur around the artificial implant that is used to replace the knee joint. Harmful bacteria entering the wound usually cause the infection.
A knee replacement infection can occur any time after surgery. For instance:

* at the hospital
* once you get home after your surgery
* months or even years after surgery

In a study by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, only 1%, one in every 100 people who have a hip or knee replacement, will develop an infection.

How to Diagnose an Infection
It may be evident to a surgeon that there is an infection in the knee with a simply visual inspection. There are tests that can be conducted to validate the presence of infection as you can see here:

* A Simple Blood Test: This can help measure inflammation in the body, which can indicate an infection.
* An Imaging Test: This can help determine if there is an infection in the artificial joint. Examples of imaging tests include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or bone scans.
* Joint aspiration: Fluid is drawn from the knee and tested for bacteria and white blood cells. A large number of white blood cells is a sign the body is fighting an infection.
* Tissue Culture: The doctor may take a tissue sample from within the infected bone or joint. The doctor sends this specimen to a laboratory for examination.
* Bone Biopsy: Your doctor might perform a bone biopsy if he suspects that you have an infection that isn’t showing up clearly on imaging tests. This process is similar to a tissue culture, in which a doctor uses a needle to remove a sample from the affected area.

For more on how to diagnose a knee infection click here: