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Increased risk of periprosthetic joint infection after acute, traumatic wound dehiscence following primary total knee arthroplasty

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To describe the risk of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) and reoperation in patients who have an acute, traumatic wound dehiscence following total knee arthroplasty (TKA).


From January 2002 to December 2018, 16,134 primary TKAs were performed at a single institution. A total of 26 patients (0.1%) had a traumatic wound dehiscence within the first 30 days. Mean age was 68 years (44 to 87), 38% (n = 10) were female, and mean BMI was 34 kg/m2 (23 to 48). Median time to dehiscence was 13 days (interquartile range (IQR) 4 to 15). The dehiscence resulted from a fall in 22 patients and sudden flexion after staple removal in four. The arthrotomy was also disrupted in 58% (n = 15), including a complete extensor mechanism disruption in four knees. An irrigation and debridement with component retention (IDCR) was performed within 48 hours in 19 of 26 knees and two-thirds were discharged on antibiotic therapy. The mean follow-up was six years (2 to 15). The association of wound dehiscence and the risk of developing a PJI was analyzed.


Patients who sustained a traumatic wound dehiscence had a 6.5-fold increase in the risk of PJI (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.6 to 26.2; p = 0.008). With the small number of PJIs, no variables were found to be significant risk factors. However, there were no PJIs in any of the patients who were treated with IDCR and a course of antibiotics. Three knees required reoperation including one two-stage exchange for PJI, one repeat IDCR for PJI, and one revision for aseptic loosening of the tibial component.


Despite having a traumatic wound dehiscence, the risk of PJI was low, but much higher than experienced in all other TKAs during the same period. We recommend urgent IDCR and a course of postoperative antibiotics to decrease the risk of PJI. A traumatic wound dehiscence increases risk of PJI by 6.5-fold.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(6 Supple A):191–195.

Correspondence should be sent to Rafael J. Sierra. E-mail:

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