Preventing infection during and after knee replacement surgery advice from knee replacement surgeons

Preventing infection during and after knee replacement surgery is a critical aspect of ensuring a successful recovery. Infections can significantly compromise the outcome of the surgery and delay the healing process. Here are key measures to prevent infection, recognize signs and symptoms, keep the wound clean and dry, and know when to contact knee replacement surgeons:

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knee replacement surgeons treating patients(illustration)

 Prevention Measures:

1. Preoperative Screening:

   Rigorous preoperative screening is essential to identify and treat any existing infections before surgery. Your healthcare team will conduct blood tests and other diagnostic evaluations to ensure you are in optimal health for the procedure.

2. Antibiotics:

   Surgeons commonly administer antibiotics before, during, and after knee replacement surgery to reduce the risk of infection. It’s crucial to adhere to the prescribed antibiotic regimen and complete the full course as directed.

3. Hygiene Practices:

   Maintain good personal hygiene in the days leading up to surgery. Shower with antibacterial soap, and follow your surgeon’s specific instructions for cleanliness before the procedure.

4. Sterile Surgical Environment:

   Surgeons and the surgical team follow strict sterile techniques during the operation to minimize the risk of infection. This includes using sterile equipment, maintaining a clean environment, and wearing appropriate surgical attire.

5. Postoperative Antibiotics:

   In some cases, surgeons may prescribe a short course of antibiotics postoperatively to further reduce the risk of infection. Follow the prescribed medication regimen diligently.

6. Prophylactic Measures:

   In addition to antibiotics, other prophylactic measures may be taken, such as the use of compression stockings to prevent blood clots, which indirectly reduces infection risk.

 Recognizing Signs and Symptoms:

1. Increased Redness and Swelling:

   Monitor the surgical site for any unusual changes. Increased redness and swelling around the incision may be indicative of infection.

2. Persistent Pain:

   While some pain is normal after surgery, persistent or worsening pain, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, could be a sign of infection.

3. Warmth around the Incision:

   An increase in localized warmth around the incision site may suggest an inflammatory response, possibly due to infection.

4. Pus or Discharge:

   Any discharge, particularly if it is yellow, green, or has an unpleasant odor, may be a sign of infection. It’s essential to keep the incision clean and dry.

5. Fever:

   A sudden onset of fever, especially accompanied by chills, can be a systemic sign of infection. Monitoring your body temperature regularly can help detect changes early.

6. Increasing Pain with Movement:

   If you experience increasing pain, especially during joint movement, this could be a cause for concern and should be evaluated promptly.

 Keeping the Wound Clean and Dry:

1. Follow Postoperative Care Instructions:

   Adhere strictly to the postoperative care instructions provided by your surgeon. This includes guidance on how to keep the incision clean and dry.

2. Gentle Cleaning:

   Clean the incision site as directed by your surgeon using a mild, non-irritating soap. Avoid harsh chemicals, and use gentle patting motions rather than rubbing.

3. Avoid Submersion:

   Until your surgeon gives the go-ahead, avoid submerging the incision in water. This includes baths, hot tubs, swimming pools, and other water bodies. Submersion increases the risk of infection.

4. Pat Dry:

   After cleaning, pat the incision site dry with a clean, soft towel. Avoid rubbing the area, as this could irritate the skin or disrupt the healing process.

5. Keep Bandages Intact:

   If your surgeon has applied bandages or dressings, follow their instructions for changing them. Keeping the bandages intact helps protect the incision from external contaminants.

 When to Contact Knee Replacement Surgeons:

1. Any Signs of Infection:

   If you observe any signs or symptoms of infection, contact your surgeon immediately. Early intervention is crucial for effective treatment.

2. Unusual Changes in the Incision:

   Report any unusual changes in the appearance of the incision, such as increased redness, swelling, or the presence of discharge.

3. Persistent Pain or Discomfort:

   If you experience persistent or worsening pain, especially if it is not alleviated by prescribed medications, inform your surgeon promptly.

4. Fever and Chills:

   The onset of fever, chills, or other systemic symptoms should be reported immediately. These can be indicators of a more serious infection.

5. Changes in Mobility:

   Any sudden changes in your ability to move the knee joint or perform recommended exercises should be communicated to your surgeon promptly.


Preventing infection during and after knee replacement surgery is a shared responsibility between the patient and the healthcare team. By following stringent hygiene practices, adhering to prescribed antibiotics, recognizing signs and symptoms of infection, and keeping the wound clean and dry, you can significantly contribute to a successful recovery. Remember, open communication with your knee replacement surgeons is crucial. If in doubt or if any concerning symptoms arise, do not hesitate to contact your surgeon promptly for guidance and evaluation. Early intervention is key to minimizing the impact of potential infections and ensuring a smooth recovery process.

#knee replacement surgeons

#Pantai Hospital Malaysia

Want to know more tips from knee replacement surgeons? Read:
Advice from knee replacement surgeons to recovery after the surgery

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