Replacement Joints with Antibiotics on Board Mean Lower Chance of Infection & Fewer Surgeries « Invisiverse

For about a million Americans each year, a joint replacement brings relief from pain and restored mobility. But, 5–10% of those people have to endure another surgery within seven years, and most of those are due to an infection in their new joint. If doctors could treat infections more effectively, patients could avoid a second surgery, more pain, and another rehabilitation.

Research conducted by a Boston-based research team has designed and developed a polymer that releases antibiotic. The polymer could be incorporated into the implant itself to sustain and maximize delivery of antibiotic directly to the area of joint replacement.

The new development by Orhun Muratoglu, at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues was reported June 13 in Nature Biomedical Engineering.

“Currently, most infections involving total joint replacement prostheses require a two-stage surgery, in which the patient’s daily activities are largely compromised for four to six months,” Muratoglu said in a press release. “Our finding that polyethylene, the most commonly used weight-bearing surface in total joint surgery, can be made to safely and effectively release antibiotics implies that fully weight-bearing implants made with this material could be used to treat infection in a single procedure, reducing both the inconvenience and the risk of complications for patients.”

Joint Replacement

Joint pain and disability lead patients to consider joint replacement surgery for relief. Joint pain caused by damage to the cartilage lining the ends of the bones most commonly occurs from arthritis or a fracture. Almost 70% of hip replacement operations are done to relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

In a total joint replacement procedure, parts of an arthritic or damaged joint are removed and replaced with a metal, plastic, or ceramic device called a prosthesis. The prosthesis is designed to provide the movement and mobility of a normal, healthy joint.

More than seven million people in the US have had a joint replacement procedure. The American Joint Replacement Registry tracks and monitors joint arthroplasty outcomes in 924 participating institutions. Their annual report provides patients and providers with information on the outcomes of joint replacement procedures. According to the report, in 2015 more hip (57%) and knee replacements (61%) were done in women than men. Patients reported their pain and…

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