Let’s Talk Orthopedic Infections

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Did you know surgical consent forms always mention the possibility of infection? The reason is this; developing an infection after surgery is more common than you may think. But just how common?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that within 30 days of a surgery, around three out of 100 patients will develop an infection near the surgical site. In most of these cases, these infections occur at the site of the incision and are eradicated with a dose of antibiotics.

But this isn’t always the case. When more harmful bacteria, viruses or even fungi affect the site of an orthopedic procedure such as a joint replacement, the results can be devastating. For some individuals, successful treatment can require months of treatment. At Texas Infectious Disease Institute, we help many individuals battling orthopedic infections.

What is an Orthopedic Infection?

Orthopedic infections can be described as infections that affect the bones (osteomyelitis) and the joints (septic arthritis). In rare cases, these types of infections occur spontaneously, but more often, they develop as a complication of surgery, particularly joint replacement surgeries.

According to The New England Journal of Medicine in 2009, approximately 2% of the 800,000 knee and hip replacement surgeries performed in the United States each year involve postoperative infection. Beyond that, 15% of all hip revisions and 25 percent of all knee revisions are due to infections that affect the prosthetic site. Revision surgery is often more costly, more complicated, and less successful than the original joint replacement.

Having certain chronic diseases puts you at greater risk for orthopedic infections. Examples include HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, hemophilia and sickle cell anemia.

Types of Orthopedic Infections

Osteomyelitis. Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone itself. These types of infections are rare, but should be taken seriously when they develop. If you experience consistent tenderness in a specific bone, consult a doctor immediately.

Septic arthritis. Knees are most commonly affected. But septic arthritis also can affect hips, shoulders and other joints. This type of joint infection also requires large doses of antibiotics delivered both topically and through IV.

Treatment of osteomyelitis and septic arthritis requires a quick and powerful antibiotic response. Bone and joint infections can spread quickly. And, if not treated effectively by an infectious disease expert like Dr. Serge Lartchenko, may lead to major tissue loss or even amputation.

How to Prevent Infection Post-Surgery

If you have had a hip or knee replacement, it is important to seek medical attention if you notice the signs of an infection, including:

  • Tenderness or pain in the affected area of the bone or joint
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Fever and chills
  • Drainage (pus) that is not clear
  • Changes in range of motion
  • Chronic fatigue

Bacteria can travel through your bloodstream. And if they colonize the site of your joint replacement, you could develop an infection that could be challenging to treat.

Dallas’ Trusted Specialist for Orthopedic Infections

At our Center for Surgical and Orthopedic Infectious Disease, Dr. Lartchenko partners with orthopedic, vascular, plastic and spine surgeons to care for patients with bone, joint, prosthetic and spine infections. The orthopedic community trusts Dr. Lartchenko with their most challenging cases.

For patients dealing with orthopedic infections, we offer specialized antibiotic treatments and combination therapies in our onsite, outpatient Infusion Suite. Using the latest advancements in non-surgical treatments for orthopedic and surgical site infections, we help many individuals overcome their serious infections and get back to living their lives.

Texas Infectious Disease Institute can make a difference. Reach out today.