Preventing an Infection to the Area of Your Bone or Joint Replacement Prosthesis

This information will help you prevent an infection in the area of your bone or joint replacement prosthesis.

When to Take Antibiotics

An infection in the area of your prosthesis can lead to serious complications. For the rest of your life, you must take an antibiotic if:

  • You are diagnosed with a bacterial infection.
  • You are going to have a procedure that may put you at risk for infection or if you have a cut or injury that causes bleeding. This is called taking antibiotics prophylactically.

Treating infections

If you develop a bacterial infection anywhere in your body, including your throat, chest, bladder, or on your skin, let your doctor know that you have a prosthesis and need antibiotics. It is important that you start the antibiotics as soon as possible. Your doctor will prescribe the antibiotic that best treats your infection.

If you get a bacterial infection, you should also call the surgeon who replaced your joint or bone.

Taking antibiotics prophylactically

Some procedures may put you at risk for an infection that could spread to the area of your prosthesis. These include:

  • Any procedure that may cause bleeding, such as dental work, removal of a corn or callus, or injury when cutting your toenails. Unclean instruments can cause infection anywhere if you break the skin.
  • Procedures done on your bladder, such as a cystoscopy or catheterization.
  • Procedures done on your bowel, such as a colonoscopy.
  • A gynecologic procedure that may cause bleeding.
  • Anything that causes a break in your skin, such as mouth sores, a cut, or any open wound.

If you have any procedure that has a risk of causing infection, you should take an antibiotic before the procedure. You should also take an antibiotic if you have a cut or injury that causes bleeding. Take the antibiotics as prescribed. Usually 1 dose is enough; however, you may need to take more if you have bleeding after the procedure.

Tell your doctor doing the procedure that you have a prosthesis and that you need to take an antibiotic before your procedure. If your doctor is not sure what to prescribe or if you have a cut or injury, call the surgeon who replaced your joint or bone.

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Antibiotics for Dental Work

The chart below lists common antibiotics used for dental work. Your dentist, oral surgeon, or nurse may use other antibiotics depending on the procedure you are having.

Please call your surgeon who replaced your joint if you don’t get a prescription for one of these antibiotics.

Antibiotic How to take
Amoxicillin By mouth, 1 hour before the procedure.
Adults: 2 grams
Children: 50 mg/kg
Ampicillin (If you are unable to take an oral antibiotic.) A shot in the muscle (IM) or in the vein (IV) within 30 minutes of having the procedure.
Adults: 2 grams
Children: 50 mg/kg
Clindamycin (If you are allergic to penicillin.) By mouth, 1 hour before the procedure.
Adults: 800 mg or 600 mg
Children: 20 mg/kg
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