Synovial fluid investigation is the best alternative to diagnose prosthetic joint infection (PJI) before adequate microbiological/histology sampling during revision surgery. Although accurate preoperative diagnosis is certainly recommended, puncturing every patient before revision arthroplasty raises concerns about safety and feasibility issues especially in difficult to access joint (e.g., hip), that often require OR time and fluoroscopy/ultrasound guidance.
Currently there is no clear guidelines regarding optimal indications to perform preoperative joint aspiration to diagnose PJI before revision surgery. The main goal of this study is to determine the accuracy of our institutional criteria using the new European Bone and Joint Infection Society (EBJIS) PJI definition.
We retrospectively evaluated every single- or first-stage for presumed aseptic or known infected revision total hip/knee arthroplasty procedures between 2013–2020. Preoperative clinical and laboratory features were systematically scrutinized. Cases with insufficient information for accurate final PJI diagnosis (i.e., no perioperative synovial fluid examination or no multiple cultures including sonication of removed implant) were excluded.
Preoperative joint aspiration is recommended in our institution if any of the following criteria are met: 1) elevated CRP and/or ESR; 2) early failure (<2 years) or repeat failure; 3) high clinical suspicion/risk factors are present. Performance of such criteria were compared against final postoperative EBJIS definition PJI diagnosis.
A total of 364 revision THAs or TKAs were performed during the study period. After excluding 258 cases with insufficient information, a total of 106 patients were ultimately included. 38 (35,8 %) were classified as confirmed infections, 10 (9.4 %) as likely infected and 58 (54.7%) as infection unlikely.
Of those, 37 confirmed infection cases, 9 likely infected cases and 32 infection unlikely cases did have indication for preoperative synovial fluid collection before revision surgery.
Institutional criteria showed 95.8 % Sensitivity, 44.83 % Specificity, 92.9 % Negative Predictive Value (NPV) and 59 % Positive Predictive Value (PPV).
Sensitivity and NPV of the aforementioned institutional criteria are very high even with the use of the more sensitive EBJIS PJI definition. As such they seem to be a valid alternative in selecting patients that should be punctured before revision arthroplasty. They identify the vast majority of infected patients while saving a significant number of patients from unnecessary procedures.