Features December 2009 Issue

Antibiotic Spacers Can Help Heal Infected Hip Replacements

The articulating device can zap infection, speed re-implantment, and reduce the need for bed rest.

Nearly 240,000 total hip replacements are performed annually in the United States, of which approximately 50,000 are revision procedures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Many of these revisions are due to infection of the prosthetic joint, a serious complication that is occurring more frequently, and with more virulent organisms. These infections are "incredibly difficult" to treat, says Viktor Krebs, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic. When revision surgery is required, the infected hip replacement is removed and the patient is left without a hip joint for six weeks or more.

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