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By the way, doctor: I have a joint replacement - should I take antibiotics before procedures?

Updated: March 01, 2009

I have a joint replacement — should I take antibiotics before procedures?

Q. Do I need to take antibiotics before dental cleanings and other procedures to prevent infection in my hip prosthesis?

A. In most cases, the answer is "no." It's an important question, though, because procedures such as teeth cleaning or scaling, colonoscopy, and cystoscopy can release bacteria into the bloodstream (a condition called bacteremia). For people with a prosthetic joint, the concern is that bacteria will cause an infection by attaching to, or "seeding," the artificial joint or the surrounding tissues. But such infections are very rare. Most bacteria are handily dispatched by the immune system. And antibiotics are given at the time of surgery to replace the joint, cutting the risk of infection. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Urological Association (AUA), and the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons all recommend against the use of antibiotics before dental, gastrointestinal, or urological procedures just to prevent infection in artificial joints.

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