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Medical Practice

How far does prophylaxis against infection in total joint replacement offset its cost?

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988; 296 doi: (Published 09 January 1988) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1988;296:99
  1. Ulf Persson,
  2. Fredrik Montgomery,
  3. Åke Carlsson,
  4. Björn Lindgren,
  5. Lennart Ahnfelt


    Selection of a cost effective method of prophylaxis against infection for patients undergoing total joint replacement was shown to depend on the number of arthroplasties performed each year at individual hospitals. When 100 arthroplasties were performed each year the prophylactic use of systemic antibiotics minimised the total costs of the department—that is, the combined costs of prophylaxis and reoperation for deep sepsis. Some departments also used local antibiotic prophylaxis in the form of polymethylmethacrylate cement impregnated with gentamicin or a combination of systemic and local prophylaxis at almost as low a total cost and with comparable effect.

    Selection of a method of prophylaxis should not be determined solely on the basis of reducing costs. When a value was assigned to the effects of loss of health an economic optimum was established that allowed selection of a more costly method of prophylaxis together with further reductions in the incidence of infection and the need for reoperation.

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