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Blood and synovial fluid calprotectin as biomarkers to diagnose chronic hip and knee periprosthetic joint infections

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Calprotectin (CLP) is produced in neutrophils and monocytes and released into body fluids as a result of inflammation or infection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of blood and synovial CLP in the diagnosis of chronic periprosthetic joint infection (PJI).


Blood and synovial fluid samples were collected prospectively from 195 patients undergoing primary or revision hip and knee arthroplasty. Patients were divided into five groups: 1) primary total hip and knee arthroplasty performed due to idiopathic osteoarthritis (OA; n = 60); 2) revision hip and knee arthroplasty performed due to aseptic failure of the implant (AR-TJR; n = 40); 3) patients with a confirmed diagnosis of chronic PJI awaiting surgery (n = 45); 4) patients who have finished the first stage of the PJI treatment with the use of cemented spacer and were qualified for replantation procedure (SR-TJR; n = 25), and 5) patients with rheumatoid arthritis undergoing primary total hip and knee arthroplasty (RA; n = 25). CLP concentrations were measured quantitatively in the blood and synovial fluid using an immunoturbidimetric assay. Additionally, blood and synovial CRP, blood interleukin-6 (IL-6), and ESR were measured, and a leucocyte esterase (LE) strip test was performed.


Patients with PJI had higher CLP concentrations than those undergoing aseptic revision in blood (median PJI 2.14 mg/l (interquartile range (IQR) 1.37 to 3.56) vs AR-TJR 0.66 mg/l (IQR 0.3 to 0.83); p < 0.001) and synovial fluid samples (median PJI 20.46 mg/l (IQR 14.3 to 22.36) vs AR-TJR 0.7 mg/l (IQR 0.41 to 0.95); p < 0.001). With a cut-off value of 1.0 mg/l, blood CLP showed a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of 93.3%, 87.5%, 89.4%, and 92.1%, respectively. For synovial fluid with a cut-off value of 1.5 mg/l, these were 95.6%, 95%, 95.5%, and 95%, respectively.


This small study suggests that synovial and blood CLP are useful markers in chronic PJI diagnosis with similar or higher sensitivity and specificity than routinely used markers such as CRP, ESR, IL-6, and LE. CLP was not useful to differentiate patients with PJI from those with rheumatoid arthritis.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(1):46–55.

Correspondence should be sent to Dariusz Grzelecki. E-mail:

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