Making sure someone's gut microbiome—the environment of good and bad bacteria—is healthy before surgery could reduce the risk of infection of the artificial joints, say the researchers from Cornell University.
Post-surgery infection is rare and affects only 1 per cent of patients—but as one million Americans opt for knee or hip replacement surgery every year, that still means around 10,000 get infected from 'bad' bacteria.
But preparing the patient with a course of probiotics before surgery could reduce the risk of infection, the researchers say.
But they left unanswered the bigger question: do 'bad' gut bacteria infect the joints and cause all the disabilities of arthritis. So instead of being a disease of 'wear-and-tear', as every sufferer is told, osteoarthritis and its many derivatives could actually be caused by bacterial infections.