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Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in the veteran population undergoing total joint arthroplasty.

Calore BL, Cheung RC, Giori NJ. Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in the veteran population undergoing total joint arthroplasty. Journal of Arthroplasty. 2012 Dec 1; 27(10):1772-6.

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Many orthopedic surgeons train or are employed at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. We sought to determine the prevalence of hepatitis C antibody-positive and hepatitis C-viremic patients in the VA population undergoing total joint arthroplasty. In this prospective cohort study, 381 of 408 patients undergoing primary total joint arthroplasty for 22 consecutive months were tested for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection preoperatively. Thirty-two (8.4%) of 381 patients were positive for hepatitis C virus antibody. Seventeen were actually viremic at the time of total joint arthroplasty (4.5%). The prevalence of detectable hepatitis C antibody in VA patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty is about 6 times the general population (1.3%). Surgeons practicing on populations with a high prevalence of hepatitis C such as this should do all they can to minimize the risk of sharps injury.

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