If a person experiences increased pain or swelling around a joint that was otherwise normal, warmth or drainage around the wound site, fever, chills or fatigue, then a person's knee replacement may be infected, states the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Factors such as a weakened immune system, diabetes or obesity increase the likelihood of an infection.
Any infection that enters a person's body can spread to a knee replacement, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Bacteria can enter the body a number of ways, but most commonly they enter through small cuts in the skin or through major dental work, such as a root canal or tooth extraction. If a person suspects infection of her knee replacement, she should visit her doctor. The doctor can confirm the diagnosis with laboratory tests or imaging tests.
If the infection has not spread all the way into the joint replacement, then the doctor is likely to recommend nonsurgical treatments, such as oral or intravenous antibiotics, states the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. If the infection has spread, a surgeon may decide to perform a debridement, which is a surgical washout of the joint, or staged surgery. Staged surgery includes many different steps, such as removal and cleaning of the joint, a course of antibiotics, and the addition of an antibiotic spacer to provide comfort for the patient while treatment continues.