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Hip Replacements and Dental Work: Do You Need to Take Antibiotics?

Posted on July 11, 2011

Pills - Antibiotics...

Patients who have undergone hip replacement, or another type of joint replacement surgery must be extremely vigilant when it comes to avoiding infections. Any orthopedic surgeon will tell you that an infection in an artificial joint can be disastrous, especially if it occurs when having routine or extensive dental work performed.

For years, dentists and orthopedists have advised patients with hip replacements to take a course of antibiotics before having dental work performed. This measure is thought to prevent oral bacteria from entering the bloodstream during a dental procedure, possibly causing an infection in the patient’s artificial joint.  A recent article has raised some questions about whether antibiotics are necessary, due to a lack of scientific evidence supporting the practice.

The problem with antibiotics in recent years is that they have been over-prescribed for everything from the common cold to viral ailments that are usually unresponsive to treatment. So-called “superbugs” such as MRSA and C difficile, as well as staph infections, have made hospital stays life-threatening due to their resistance to commonly used antibiotics.

Last year, the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) released a revised statement that recommended the need for antibiotics prior to dental work in patients who have had hip replacements be left up to the patient’s dentist and orthopedic surgeon. The statement suggests the doctors confer to weigh the risks to the patient, and make a decision as to whether or not a course of antibiotics is necessary based on other health concerns.

The main concerns when deciding whether or not to administer antibiotics are the patient’s overall health, and which types of dental procedures are to be performed. Of course, if major dental surgery is necessary such as gum surgery, tooth extraction, or even routine cleanings (all known to cause bleeding), antibiotics should be prescribed. But, if the patient is having a cavity filled or some other minor procedure, antibiotics might not be necessary. Patients who are in good heath might be at risk of an adverse reaction to an antibiotic and could avoid any ancillary discomfort by forgoing medication for a minor procedure. Again, this is based on the patient’s medical history and professional medical opinion.

Patients who have undergone a hip replacement and pose a high risk of developing infections include those with compromised or suppressed immune systems from illnesses like lupus or HIV, or from prolonged steroid use. Additionally, if the patient has had his or her hip replacement surgery within 2 years of needing dental work, it is advisable to err on the side of caution by prescribing antibiotics during this time period.

Any type of surgery can put a patient at risk of contracting an infection. It is best to exercise caution before undergoing a hip replacement by conferring with your doctor about what type of treatment might be needed to avoid infection. When it comes to dental work, hip replacement candidates should try to undergo any necessary dental procedures before surgery is performed. That means having X-rays taken, having your teeth cleaned and any other work necessary to treat any major oral issues before undergoing a hip replacement.

If the worst happens and you develop an infection, contact your doctor immediately. Ignoring the signs of infection could have life-threatening consequences that can be avoided by seeking medical attention as soon as you begin to experience symptoms.

The hip replacement lawyers at the Rottenstein Law Group have over 25 years of experience when it comes to advocating for your rights as a consumer. If you feel that your infection was brought on by a faulty hip replacement device or other type of negligence, you may be eligible for compensation in a DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement lawsuit. please fill out our contact form to get started on protecting your rights.

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