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Prosthetic Joint Infection Specialist

Gregory Lavigne, MD -  - Orthopedic Surgeon

Southeastern Sports Medicine and Orthopedics

Gregory Lavigne, MD

Orthopedic Surgeon & Reconstructive Surgeon located in Asheville, NC & Arden, NC

Joint replacement improves the lives of hundreds of Asheville, North Carolina, residents each and every year, but some of those men and women experience a prosthetic joint infection after their procedure. Gregory Lavigne, MD, of the Southeastern Sports Medicine and Orthopedics team at Pardee Hospital, understands the stress and discomfort that a prosthetic joint infection brings, and offers individualized care, using a multispecialty approach, to rid your body of infection and get you back on your feet. If you suspect that something is amiss with your joint replacement, schedule an appointment with Dr. Lavigne and the Southeastern Sports Medicine and Orthopedics team as soon as possible. Online scheduling is available, or you’re welcome to call the office to book an appointment.

Prosthetic Joint Infection Q & A

What is prosthetic joint infection?

A prosthetic joint infection occurs when harmful bacteria multiplies in the tissues surrounding the artificial joint. Of course, the metal and plastic portions of your new joint are not subject to infection, but the tendons, ligaments, muscles, and other soft tissues that support your joint can become infected and cause damage.

Are prosthetic joint infections common?

No. Only around 1-2% of men and women who have joint replacement surgery develop a prosthetic joint infection. Dr. Lavigne helps you understand your risk of infection prior to your procedure, and discusses how you can reduce your risk both before and after surgery.

What are the symptoms of prosthetic joint infection?

Joint pain is the primary symptom of joint replacement infection. Additional symptoms include:

  • Swelling
  • Sensation of warmth around the joint
  • Fever
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Drainage from a surgical incision

If you notice any of these signs, call Dr. Lavigne and the team right away to determine your next steps.

How are prosthetic joint infections treated?

Dr. Lavigne and the team begin by examining the affected area and ordering imaging tests as needed. He may obtain samples of blood and joint fluid to look for signs of infection.

If the infection is superficial — meaning it hasn’t spread deep within your artificial joint — a course of antibiotics may clear things up. However, if the infection has moved beyond the soft tissue surrounding your artificial joint, more in-depth treatment is needed to attack the bacteria.

Debridement — the surgical removal of contaminated soft tissue — is one option. Dr. Lavigne essentially “cleans” your implant and the surrounding tissues, replaces any prosthetic parts that are easily replaceable, and starts you on a course of IV antibiotics.

A well-established infection requires staged surgery. During the first stage, Dr. Lavigne removes the infected artificial joint and any contaminated soft tissue before placing an antibiotic impregnated spacer in the joint. He then administers intravenous antibiotics along with the help of Pardee’s Center for Infectious Disease, until the infection clears up.

At that point, Dr. Lavigne surgically implants a new artificial joint. He carefully monitors your surgical site for signs of infection until it’s clear your new joint is working properly and free of harmful bacteria.

If you’re concerned about prosthetic joint infection, schedule an appointment online or over the phone as soon as possible.