Patients with diabetes have a higher incidence of infection after total joint arthroplasty (TJA) than patients without diabetes. Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels are a marker for blood glucose control in diabetic patients. A total of 3468 patients underwent 4241 primary or revision total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty at one institution. Hemoglobin A1c levels were examined to evaluate if there was a correlation between the control of HbA1c and infection after TJA. There were a total of 46 infections (28 deep and 18 superficial [9 cellulitis and 9 operative abscesses]). Twelve (3.43%) occurred in diabetic patients (n = 350; 8.3%) and 34 (0.87%) in nondiabetic patients (n = 3891; 91.7%) (P < .001). There were 9 deep (2.6%) infections in diabetic patients and 19 (0.49%) in nondiabetic patients. In noninfected, diabetic patients, HbA1c level ranged from 4.7% to 15.1% (mean, 6.92%). In infected diabetic patients, HbA1c level ranged from 5.1% to 11.7% (mean, 7.2%) (P < .445). The average HbA1c level in patients with diabetes was 6.93%. Diabetic patients have a significantly higher risk for infection after TJA. Hemoglobin A1c levels are not reliable for predicting the risk of infection after TJA.
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