Prevention of Infection After Joint Replacement

Prevention of Infection After Joint Replacement

Risk Factors For Development of an Infection

Before we discuss how exactly infection can be prevented, it is important to recognize why exactly a patient would develop an infection following joint replacement.

There are certain factors that can predispose an individual being tailored to developing an infection. A low immunity level or the presence of an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, smoking, poor surgical technique and poor personal hygiene can all be factors that can result in an infection. Targeting each of these risk factors can be an effective way of preventing infections.

Preventing Infections

If one were to look at the individual risk factors that can predispose a patient to developing infections, it would be clear that targeting each of them specifically can reduce the chance of an infection developing. In patients who have underlying diabetes, appropriate control of blood sugar levels can reduce the chance of an infection following joint replacement. Studies have shown that patients who have high blood glucose levels following surgery and those who have a high HbA1C level are particularly vulnerable to infection.

Surgical technique is also a well-recognized risk factor that must be targeted. Maintaining sterile conditions during surgery and preparing the patient properly using the right kind of hair clippers are all factors that can prevent infection. The use of antiseptic solution such as chlorhexidine is also beneficial. The operating room must be well-ventilated and patients must be given antibody prophylaxis if there is concern that they may develop infections in the post-operative period. Surgeons and other operating room staff must ideally double glove and ensure that they scrub up to the recommended standards.

In patients who have underlying medical conditions that warrant treatment before surgery, adequate treatment must be given to ensure that the condition is under control. For example, in patients who have an underlying chest infection, a good course of antibiotics must be given to ensure that this is cleared completely.

There are various schools of thought on how infection can be prevented following joint replacement. Some recommend offering the patient a full wash using a soap that has at least 2% chlorhexidine, while others recommend cleaning the skin in the post-operative period with chlorhexidine and alcohol solution.

Finally, another recommended way to prevent infection is to educate patients about post-operative care, making sure they take the right steps after they have been discharged from the hospital.


Post-operative infections following joint surgery are well-recognized but not very common. However, when they do occur, the results can be rather devastating. Simple preventative measures can help avoid these infections effectively.