Joint replacement surgery is one of the most common orthopedic surgeries in the United States and its numbers are on the rise, whether it be a first-time replacement or a revision of a previous surgery.
In fact, according to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery by 2030, the number of knee replacement revisions is expected to be 600 percent higher than it was less than 15 years ago. And, over one million Americans opt for a knee or hip replacement each year.
That means since the majority of joint replacement surgeries occur in people over the age of 65, every year that passes increases your odds of facing one of these extensive procedures — and a complication due to infection.
While this type of complication is considered rare, it doesn’t make it any less concerning. Infections, especially those arising from opportunistic bacteria that frequent hospitals are especially difficult to treat.
To prevent infection, surgeons take multiple precautions during surgery. However, infections are the number one reason for replacing an artificial knee and the number three cause for replacing an artificial hip.
However, according to a new study by researchers at Cornell’s College of Engineering and the Hospital for Special Surgery, there could be a very simple way to prevent these types of infections…
Something that you can do at home that requires no drugs or special equipment.
Do-it-yourself infection risk-reduction
The study, published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, used mice fitted with tiny artificial knees. The mouse knee replacement was originally developed to improve implant design and to study how bone grows into these implants but the team advanced the model to study infections.
They found that in normal mice, immune system markers in the bloodstream rise during an infection, as the body responds. But, these markers did not rise in mice with unhealthy gut microbiomes that also developed infections.
According to the researchers, these results suggest that mice whose gut microbiome is unhealthy may have compromised immune systems. And, they show that having healthy gut flora – the trillions of bacteria that live in your intestines – could lower your risk of infection following knee and hip replacement surgeries.
“This research is in early stages, but if it pans out in humans, it’s possible we could change or fix the patient’s gut microbiome before they go in for hip or knee replacement and that could further reduce the risk of infection,” said Christopher Hernandez, associate professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, and the paper’s first author.
Probiotic power in action
While the research hasn’t actually moved on to humans yet, the results are encouraging and enough to make the choice to add probiotics to your daily regimen if you have a joint replacement surgery planned.
You can get a healthy probiotic punch using a supplement or through foods and drinks, including:
So, if you are getting ready to undergo a knee or hip replacement, be sure to put the power of probiotics to work for you to lower your risk of infection as well as the risk of requiring joint revision surgery.
- 10 Startling Statistics on Joint Replacement Surgery — Rehab Select
- Link found between gut bacteria, successful joint replacement — EurekAlert!
- Total hip replacement: indications for surgery and risk factors for failure — Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases