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Toronto, AL M5N 2M7
Ph: 416-483-2654
Fax: 416-483-2654

Child Orthopedics
Spine - Cervical
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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Oh boy, Mom got an infection after her knee replacement surgery. It looks serious enough that she may need surgery. What can we do to help her avoid this? Is it even possible?

Infection after knee replacement surgery is a well-known risk and one everyone would like to avoid. Early problems are usually superficial (on the surface). The problem could be a failure of the incision to close, skin or scar infection, or continued drainage from the wound. Once it happens, it must be treated quickly to avoid getting worse. Conservative (nonoperative) care is usually given at first. The wound is cared for and motion that might aggravate the healing wound is limited. This could include range-of-motion exercises and walking. Antibiotics may be needed. Depending on how soon the diagnosis is made and how severe the infection is, the surgeon may recommend topical, oral, or intravenous antibiotic therapy. The goal is to prevent minor, superficial wounds from progressing to become deep infections requiring surgical treatment. Fortunately, this doesn't happen very often (less than one per cent of the time). This is very low but still devastating for the patient. You can help by encouraging your mother to follow all advice given by the nursing staff and/or surgeon(s). If needed, make sure she takes her antibiotics as scheduled and for the full amount of time prescribed. If walking and other activities involving movement are limited, she's going to need some help with daily chores, getting groceries, and getting to her appointments. Don't hesitate to call the physician and/or get her back in to see someone if the wound is suspicious looking or doesn't seem to be responding. Early intervention is the key to success. For anyone who has diabetes, maintaining good control is extremely important. With or without diabetes, good nutrition is essential for wound healing. Making or providing meals can be very helpful following this type of complication after surgery.


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