Patient Information Resources

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Fax: 416-483-2654

Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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It looks like I have a slight infection in my incision from knee replacement surgery. It's only been two weeks since I had the operation. I'm inclined to wait and see if it clears up without taking the antibiotic the doctor prescribed. Do you think that's okay?

Small or superficial (close to the surface) infections can become major problems if not treated properly and quickly. If you don't want to take an antibiotic, check with your surgeon to see if a short trial of topical antibiotic cream would be sufficient. If not, follow your doctor's advice and complete the entire prescription exactly as directed. If you have any risk factors that might delay wound healing (e.g., diabetes, smoker, heart disease), it's best to practice prevention. It's best to reduce your risk of potentially serious results that can occur without treatment. One other potential pitfall is the diagnosis. Studies show that the risk of serious, deep, progressive infection goes up when surgeons use their clinical judgment to diagnose infections. What can sometimes look like a superficial infection could in fact be a deep infection that is already affecting your new implant. There are specific tests (culture of the tissue) that can be used to find out if there was a significant infection. The result of missing deep periprosthetic (around the implant) infections is that a simple treatment early on gets passed by. Eventually, the patient needs much more extensive surgery to take care of the problem. The missed diagnosis increases the risk that the patient could lose the implant. In a few cases, amputation is even necessary. If your surgeon has recommended an antibiotic, you most likely need to take it. If you want to pursue this further, talk to your surgeon about further testing and other options available.


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