Impact and preference for treatment of infection after joint replacement

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Around 1% of patients who have hip replacement have deep prosthetic joint infection afterwards. Infection is treated with antibiotics and revision surgery. We aimed to characterise the impact of deep joint infection and its treatment, to identify treatment preferences, and to describe surgeons' treatment decisions.

In a qualitative study in the UK we interviewed 19 patients who had infection after hip replacement and 12 orthopaedic surgeons specialising in infection. Face-to-face interviews with patients explored experience of infection, treatment and recovery. Interviews with surgeons explored treatment decisions. With consent, interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and anonymised. Once imported into QSR NVivo software, data were analysed using constant comparison.

Patients with deep joint infection described mobility loss, pain, loss of valued activities, changes to home environments/moving into care, negative impact on personal relationships and financial strain. Physical and psychological trauma was associated with revision surgery and antibiotic treatment. Patients had strong preferences for treatment options, emphasising impact of surgery, side effects of antibiotics and duration of treatment as key considerations. Although eradication of infection was important, patients felt that reducing impact of treatment was high priority and identified a need for more support. Surgeons' treatment decisions focused on patient characteristics and nature of infection to prioritise eradication of infection. During patients' recovery surgeons' were concerned about possible return of infection and patients' mobility and function.

Infection after joint replacement causes physical and psychological trauma. Balancing patients' preferences for reducing impact of treatment with surgeons' emphasis on eradication of infection should be an important consideration in care. There is also need to develop new interventions to support patients with infection.

Level of evidence Level 3 – Qualitative Research

Funding statement:
This paper presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Programme Grants for Applied Research scheme (grant number: RP-PG-1210-12005). The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

This study has been given a favourable opinion for conduct in the NHS by the National Research Ethics Service Committee South West – Exeter 14/SW/0072
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bone and Joint Journal
Subtitle of host publicationOrthopaedic Proceedings
Number of pages1
ISBN (Electronic)2049-4416
Publication statusPublished - 24 Apr 2017

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