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Infections Related to Orthopedic Devices and Prosthetic Joints


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Surgery to implant orthopedic devices or prosthetic joints can be used to treat orthopedic conditions (conditions that affect the bones, muscles, or joints). Because these implants are made of metal, plastic, or ceramic, it’s difficult for our immune system to protect these materials from bacterial infections that spread through the body.

The most common cause of bacteria entering the body and spreading infection is via cuts in the skin due to major dental procedures (such as a tooth extraction or root canal) or through wounds from other surgical procedures. If you experience an infection that affects your prosthetic joint or orthopedic device, the infectious disease experts at the University of Miami Health System can help treat you quickly and safely.

Signs and symptoms of an infection related to a device include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fevers, chills, and night sweats
  • Increased pain or stiffness in a previously healthy joint
  • Swelling of the joint
  • Warmth, redness, and drainage around the wound

Patients may be at an increased risk of developing an infection related to an orthopedic device or prosthetic joint if you have any of the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Immune deficiencies, such as HIV or lymphoma
  • Obesity
  • Peripheral vascular disease (poor circulation in the hands and feet)
  • Undergoing immunosuppressive treatments, such as chemotherapy or corticosteroids


Imaging Tests
Your doctor may order an imaging test, such as an X-ray or bone scan, to check for infection of the device.

Blood Tests
Your doctor may order a blood test to check for infection in your bloodstream.

Fluid Test
Your doctor may draw fluid from the affected area to check for bacteria under a microscope.


Antibiotic Medication
If caught early enough, your doctor can prescribe intravenous (through the vein) or oral (by mouth) antibiotic medication to fight the bacteria that is causing the infection.

In some cases, your doctor may need to perform surgery to clean out the infected area. If the infection has been present for a long period of time, the device may need to be removed and replaced.

Why Choose UHealth?

Advanced, specialized care to fight infections. From the latest diagnostic techniques to the newest evidence-based medicines, our infectious disease physicians offer specialized care for many infectious diseases including HIV, cytomegalovirus, fungal infections, mycobacterial infections, and more. We create personalized treatment plans based on the cause of your infection and your health to prevent and fight bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. You’ll have access to expert physicians, more treatment options, and supportive care that focuses on your needs.

Unparalleled health care for the South Florida community. The University of Miami Health System delivers leading-edge patient care by the region’s best doctors, powered by the groundbreaking research of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

The future of medicine is happening now. From diagnosis to treatment and follow-up, physicians work in teams to diagnose and treat each patient, using the latest technology and innovative approaches in their field. UHealth patients can participate in clinical trials and benefit from the most recent discoveries that are fast-tracked from the laboratory to the bedside.

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