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The diagnostic value of routine preliminary biopsy in diagnosing late prosthetic joint infection after hip and knee arthroplasty

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Biopsy of the periprosthetic tissue is an important diagnostic tool for prosthetic joint infection (PJI) as it enables the detection of the responsible microorganism with its sensitivity to antibiotics. We aimed to investigate how often the bacteria identified in the tissue analysis differed between samples obtained from preoperative biopsy and intraoperative revision surgery in cases of late PJI; and whether there was a therapeutic consequence.


A total of 508 patients who required revision surgery of total hip arthroplasty (THA) (n = 231) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA) (n = 277) because of component loosening underwent biopsy before revision surgery. The tissue samples collected at biopsy and during revision surgery were analyzed according to the criteria of the Musculoskeletal Infection Society (MSIS).


In total, 178 (113 THA, 65 TKA) were classified as infected. The biopsy procedure had a sensitivity of 93.8%, a specificity of 97.3%, a positive predictive value (PPV) of 94.9%, a negative predictive value (NPV) of 96.7%, and an accuracy of 96.1%. Of the 178 infected patients, 26 showed a difference in the detected bacteria from the biopsy and the revision surgery (14.6%). This difference required a change to antibiotic therapy in only two cases (1.1%).


Biopsy is a useful tool to diagnose PJI, but there may be a difference in the detected bacteria between the biopsy and revision surgery. However, this did not affect the choice of antibiotic therapy in most cases, rendering the clinical relevance of this phenomenon as low.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(3):329–335

Correspondence should be sent to Bernd Fink; E-mail:

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