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High treatment failure rate in haematogenous compared to non-haematogenous periprosthetic joint infection

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A higher failure rate has been reported in haematogenous periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) compared to non-haematogenous PJI. The reason for this difference is unknown. We investigated the outcome of haematogenous and non-haematogenous PJI to analyze the risk factors for failure in both groups of patients.


Episodes of knee or hip PJI (defined by the European Bone and Joint Infection Society criteria) treated at our institution between January 2015 and October 2020 were included in a retrospective PJI cohort. Episodes with a follow-up of > one year were stratified by route of infection into haematogenous and non-haematogenous PJI. Probability of failure-free survival was estimated using the Kaplan-Meier method, and compared between groups using log-rank test. Univariate and multivariate analysis was applied to assess risk factors for failure.


A total of 305 PJI episodes (174 hips, 131 knees) were allocated to the haematogenous (n = 146) or the non-haematogenous group (n = 159). Among monomicrobial infections, Staphylococcus aureus was the dominant pathogen in haematogenous PJI (76/140, 54%) and coagulase-negative staphylococci in non-haematogenous PJI (57/133, 43%). In both groups, multi-stage exchange (n = 55 (38%) in haematogenous and n = 73 (46%) in non-haematogenous PJI) and prosthesis retention (n = 70 (48%) in haematogenous and n = 48 (30%) in non-haematogenous PJI) were the most common surgical strategies. Median duration of antimicrobial treatment was 13.5 weeks (range, 0.5 to 218 weeks) and similar in both groups. After six years of follow-up, the probability of failure-free survival was significantly lower in haematogenous compared to non-haematogenous PJI (55% vs 74%; p = 0.021). Infection-related mortality was significantly higher in haematogenous than non-haematogenous PJI (7% vs 0% episodes; p = 0.001). Pathogenesis of failure was similar in both groups. Retention of the prosthesis was the only independent risk factor for failure in multivariate analysis in both groups.


Treatment failure was significantly higher in haematogenous compared to non-haematogenous PJI. Retention of the prosthesis was the only independent risk factor for failure in both groups.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2023;105-B(12):1294–1302.

Correspondence should be sent to Nora Renz. E-mail:

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