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Whether patients with asymptomatic bacteriuria should be investigated and treated before elective hip and knee replacement is controversial, although it is a widespread practice. We conducted a prospective observational cohort study with urine analyses before surgery and three days post-operatively. Patients with symptomatic urinary infections or an indwelling catheter were excluded. Post-discharge surveillance included questionnaires to patients and general practitioners at three months. Among 510 patients (309 women and 201 men), with a median age of 69 years (16 to 97) undergoing lower limb joint replacements (290 hips and 220 knees), 182 (36%) had pre-operative asymptomatic bacteriuria, mostly due to Escherichia coli, and 181 (35%) had white cells in the urine. Most patients (95%) received a single intravenous peri-operative dose (1.5 g) of cefuroxime as prophylaxis. On the third post-operative day urinary analysis identified white cells in 99 samples (19%) and bacteriuria in 208 (41%). Pathogens in the cultures on the third post-operative day were different from those in the pre-operative samples in 260 patients (51%). Only 25 patients (5%) developed a symptomatic urinary infection during their stay or in a subsequent three-month follow-up period, and two thirds of organisms identified were unrelated to those found during the admission. All symptomatic infections were successfully treated with oral antibiotics with no perceived effect on the joint replacement. We conclude that testing and treating asymptomatic urinary tract colonisation before joint replacement is unnecessary.

Original publication




Journal article


Bone joint j

Publication Date





390 - 394


Urinary tract colonisation; Elective arthroplasty; Antibiotic; Epidemiology; Infection; Urine sediment, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Antibiotic Prophylaxis, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, Bacteriuria, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Preoperative Care, Prospective Studies, Surveys and Questionnaires, Unnecessary Procedures, Urinalysis