Important Reminder for Anyone Who’s had a Joint Replacement

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Antibiotics are required prior to ‘dirty’ procedures if you have a joint replacement

This is a timely reminder from Brisbane-based orthopaedic surgeon Dr Mark Richardson, for anyone who’s ever had joint replacement surgery. Mark would like to remind health care professionals and patients alike that it is recommended that anyone who’s ever had joint replacement surgery should take a single dose of antibiotics prior to any ‘dirty’ medical procedures they subsequently undergo.

What is a ‘Dirty’ Procedure and How Could it Affect my Joint Replacement?

Examples of a ‘dirty’ procedure would include a colonoscopy or major dental work. The reason is that these procedures can liberate bacteria into the blood stream, which very rarely can seed at the site of your joint replacement causing it to become infected. Even the simple act of brushing your teeth liberates a transient shower of bacteria into your blood stream, which in most cases your immune system can handle. However, if the load of bacteria is higher, such as with certain ‘dirty’ procedures, a single dose of antibiotics can help prevent disaster. Similar advice also applies for other medical conditions such as certain heart valve problems.

Does This Apply to Everyone?

It doesn’t matter how long since your joint replacement, it can occur anytime, even years later. Although this is very rare, the consequences can be serious often requiring multiple revision surgeries and months in hospital. Exact guidelines do vary so check with your GP or orthopaedic surgeon.

Please remember this is a rare problem; however it is often overlooked by patients and health care professionals alike. A single dose of antibiotics can avert disaster.

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