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 an infection.
  • You are going to have a procedure that may put you at risk for infection.

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 need antibiotics because you have a prosthesis. It is important that you start them as soon as possible. Your doctor will prescribe the antibiotic that best treats your infection. If you get an infection, call the surgeon who replaced your joint.

Other things may also 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.
  • Anything that causes a break in your skin, such as mouth sores, a cut, or any open wound.
  • 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.

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

The chart below lists common antibiotics. Your doctor or nurse may use other antibiotics depending on the procedure you are having. More information is available through the American Heart Association.




By mouth, 1 hour before the procedure.
Adults: 2 grams
Children: 50 mg/kg

(If you are unable to take an oral antibiotic.)

In the muscle (IM) or in the vein (IV) within 30 minutes of having the procedure.
Adults: 2 grams
Children: 50 mg/kg

(If you are allergic to penicillin.)

By mouth, one hour before the procedure.
Adults: 800 mg or 600 mg
Children: 20 mg/kg