To improve the challenging treatment of periprosthetic joint infections (PJI), researchers are constantly developing new handling methods and strategies. In patients with PJI after total knee arthroplasty (TKA) and severe local or systemic comorbidities, a two-stage exchange using a temporary antibiotic loaded PMMA-spacer is considered gold standard. This method has undisputed advantages, however, the increased risk of biofilm formation on the spacer surface, bone defects and soft tissue contractions after a six-week spacer interval are severe limitations. Our hypothesis is that a vacuum sealed foam in combination with constant instillation of an antiseptic fluid can address these drawbacks due to a significantly reduced spacer interval.
A pilot study was conducted in five PJI cases after TKA with severe comorbidities and/or multiple previous operations to evaluate the feasibility and safety of the proposed method. In the first step, surgical treatment included the explantation of the prosthesis, debridement, and the implantation of the VeraFlo-Dressing foam. The foam is connected to the VAC-Instill-Device via an inflow and an outflow tube. The surgical site is sealed airtight with the VAC-film. During the next 5 days, an antiseptic fluid (Lavasorb® or Taurolidine®) is instilled in a 30-minute interval using the VAC-Instill-Device. The limb is immobilized (no flexion in the knee joint, no weight bearing) for five days. Following that, the second operation is performed in which the VAC-VeraFloTM-Therapy System is explanted and the revision TKA is implanted after debridement of the joint.
No serious adverse event occurred during the VAC-Instill spacer treatment. The TKA revision was performed after a mean of 5.4 ± 1.9 days. Mean patient age was 71±6 years with a mean of 6 previous PJI surgeries. Host classification according to McPherson was I/B/3, III/B/3 and III/C/3 in three cases. Out of the five cases included, four were successfully treated and remained infect free to date (mean 14.2 ± 12 months; germs: methicillin-resistant s. aureus, e. coli, staph. lugdunensis and one culture neg.). One case with candida infection of a total femur prosthesis had to be treated with an enucleation of the hip due to rising inflammation parameters and signs of sepsis 7 days after VAC-Instill implantation.
The presented data on the VAC-Instill spacer method in septic two-stage revision TKA show promising results regarding feasibility and safety. A prospective randomized controlled examination is in progress to evaluate the possible advantages over a two-stage approach using a standard PMMA spacer.