The diagnosis of prosthetic joint infection (PJI) is challenging and relies on a combination of parameters. However, the currently recommended diagnostic algorithms have not been validated for patients with recent surgery, dislocation or other events associated with a local inflammatory response. As a result, these algorithms are not safely applicable offhand in such conditions. Calprotectin is a leukocyte protein that has been shown to be a reliable biomarker of PJI. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of calprotectin to rule out PJI within 3 months after surgery or dislocation.
We included patients who underwent arthroplasty revision surgery at our institution within 3 months after any event causing inflammation. Calprotectin was measured using a lateral-flow assay. European Bone and Joint Infection Society (EBJIS) criteria were used as gold standard. The diagnostic accuracy of calprotectin was calculated.
Twenty-two patients (14 females, 8 males) with a mean age of 65.1 ± 12.3 years with 13 total hip (THA) and 9 total knee arthroplasties (TKA) were included. There were 4 instances of possible early-onset acute infection, 4 dislocations, 2 patella tendon ruptures, 1 local tissue reaction to the sutures, 4 cases of early loosening, 2 component breakages and 1 avulsion of a polyethylene patella button.
Using the EBJIS criteria, PJI was confirmed postoperatively in 12 cases. With a cut-off at 50mg/L, the calprotectin lateral flow test was positive in 10 cases. This results in a sensitivity of the calprotectin test of 0.75, a specificity of 0.9, positive and negative predictive values of 0.9 and 0.75, respectively, and a positive and negative likelihood ratio of 7.5 and 0.28, respectively.
Aggravating the difficulties of ruling out PJI prior to revision surgery, local inflammation can be caused by some conditions in which the widely accepted PJI definition criteria cannot be applied. Nevertheless, an accurate diagnosis of PJI is just as crucial in these situations as it is in planned revision surgery. This study suggests that calprotectin is a promising diagnostic parameter for ruling out PJI in such cases. The calprotectin lateral-flow assay is readily applicable at the beginning of the procedure, yielding results that can assist in the decision whether to perform septic revision or aseptic partial or component exchange within 15 minutes, and with an overall accuracy of 81.8%.