Diabetes Ups Risk After Joint Surgery

Diabetic and obese people may have increased infection risk after joint replacement surgery

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) A hip or knee replacement may rid you of your arthritis pain. But you may also run the risk of infection after surgery.

People with diabetes may have more than twice the risk of infection after joint replacement surgery, compared to those without diabetes.

Morbidly obese patients also may face a high risk of joint infection after surgery.

"Learn how to prevent joint surgery complications."

"Diabetes and obesity are common in patients undergoing joint replacement," write Esa Jämsen, MD, PhD, of Coxa, Hospital for Joint Replacement, and colleagues.

Past studies on the effects of diabetes or obesity on joint infection after surgery have shown mixed results, they wrote.

It remains unclear how the combination of diabetes and obesity affects the risk of joint infection after joint replacement surgery for osteoarthritis.

In their study, Dr. Jämsen and colleagues saw 52 joint infections within the first year after surgery. The rate of post-surgery infection rose from 0.37 percent in normal-weight people to 4.66 percent in morbidly obese people.

Whether a person was obese or not, diabetes more than doubled the risk of infection after joint replacement.

Morbidly obese patients with diabetes had the highest rate of infection, with five out of 51 patients (9.8 percent) developing infection.

In patients without diabetes, higher blood sugar levels were associated with a higher infection risk.

The researchers found no link between infection risk and type of diabetes medication.

According to the study's authors, diabetes and morbid obesity increased the risk of joint infection after hip and knee replacement surgery.

"The benefits of joint replacement should be carefully weighed against the incidence of postoperative infection, especially in morbidly obese patients," they write.

For their study, the researchers looked at the one-year rate of joint infections after 7,181 hip and knee replacement surgeries for people with osteoarthritis. Data on post-surgery joint infection came from the hospital infection register. The researchers identified patients with diabetes from the registers of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.

The research was published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

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Review Date: 
July 23, 2012
Last Updated:
May 14, 2013