Infection after knee replacement: new research could help identify those most susceptible

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infection after knee replacement

Knee replacement surgery has become a common procedure, with over 110,000 of them carried out per year in the UK, and for the vast majority of people, it’s a pretty straightforward operation with nothing but benefits when the recovery period is over. However, the biggest problem for surgeons (and especially patients) is the risk of infection in the treated area, which could lead to serious complications down the line. It must be stressed that the risk is extremely minor, but at present 1% of patients run the risk of deep infection in the knee area, which can have some pretty nasty knock-on effects.

However, new research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has taken steps to identify which groups of people are most likely to develop a severe infection after knee replacement surgery and therefore need the joint replacement redone.

Zoning in on the risk factors

The study – the largest of its kind – was conducted by researchers from the Musculoskeletal Research Unit at the University of Bristol, who combed the records of the 679, 010 people who had undergone knee replacement surgery in England and Wales between 2003 and 2013 and tracked their progress in the year after their procedures, zoning in on the data of those who had suffered a knee infection.

According to their findings, the groups of people most at risk from needing their joint replacement redone due to infection include patients under 60 years of age; males; those with chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes, or liver disease; and people with a higher body mass index.

The research team didn’t stop there: they also deduced that the reason for surgery, the type of procedure performed and the type of prosthesis and its fixation also influenced the risk of needing revision surgery for an infection.

A clearer picture for practitioners

The goal of this research is to arm practitioners with a honed and refined set of guidelines, in order to help them zone in on the patients who will be most at-risk and prepare themselves to nip any future complications in the bud – be they early on in the post-surgery period, or years later.

It goes without saying that these findings could be a boon for the knee surgery community and future patients alike. Knee replacement surgery is a costly and time-consuming procedure, but having to re-do it is even costlier. And with the number of procedures rising year-on-year due to an ageing population, every re-done procedure means a longer wait for those desperate for their own knee procedure. By identifying possible raised risk factors for infection after knee replacement surgery will help practitioners to develop strategies to minimise the risk.

Call 0203 195 2443 to arrange a consultation with Mr Jonathan Webb and he will discuss all potential risks and complications including infection after knee replacement surgery before you make the decision to go ahead.