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According to the American Academy of Orthpaedic Surgeons, close to 1 million people get a hip, knee or shoulder replacement every year in the U.S. Unfortunately, in around 1 to 2 percent of those cases, the implant gets infected.

The most common cause of infection is a bacteria called Staphylococcus epidermidis. The bacteria enters through the surgical wound, and applies itself to the implant. The bacteria then multiplies, and creates a physical and chemical barrier called biofilm around the implant that resists treatment by antibiotics. This physical and chemical barrier means that the infection must be treated by either cleaning the implant or completely replacing it.

With orthopaedic implant surgeries on the rise, researchers are working on solutions for the increasing risk of implant infections. Some researchers are developing gel particles called hydrogels that repeal infection from implants, while others have developed the idea of microscopic bumps that prevent bacteria from attaching. While these new ideas are several years off from being incorporated into implants, this exciting research promises to decrease the risk of infection, and lower the risk of infection for those undergoing such surgeries.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Suzanne McClain
    Suzanne McClain

    One must wonder if bacteria is what causes the body to reject a device.

    In the case of surgical mesh, thousands are suffering injuries, and many times the body is trying to expel the device. So, one must wonder, could this expulsion be caused by bacteria, or are these devices just to harsh to be implanted in the human body?

    Surgical mesh can also adhere to organs and nerve beds, perhaps in these cases it is trying to expel, but because of placement turns inward causing even more injuries to patients.

    Food for thought, and something to strongly ponder.

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