Complications after spacer implantation in the treatment of hip joint infections

Int J Med Sci. 2009 Sep 2;6(5):265-73. doi: 10.7150/ijms.6.265.


The aim of this retrospective study was to identify and evaluate complications after hip spacer implantation other than reinfection and/or infection persistence. Between 1999 and 2008, 88 hip spacer implantations in 82 patients have been performed. There were 43 male and 39 female patients at a mean age of 70 [43-89] years. The mean spacer implantation time was 90 [14-1460] days. The mean follow-up was 54 [7-96] months. The most common identified organisms were S. aureus and S. epidermidis. In most cases, the spacers were impregnated with 1 g gentamicin and 4 g vancomycin/80 g bone cement. The overall complication rate was 58.5% (48/82 cases). A spacer dislocation occurred in 15 cases (17%). Spacer fractures could be noticed in 9 cases (10.2%). Femoral fractures occurred in 12 cases (13.6%). After prosthesis reimplantation, 16 patients suffered from a prosthesis dislocation (23%). 2 patients (2.4%) showed allergic reactions against the intravenous antibiotic therapy. An acute renal failure occurred in 5 cases (6%). No cases of hepatic failure or ototoxicity could be observed in our collective. General complications (consisting mostly of draining sinus, pneumonia, cardiopulmonary decompensation, lower urinary tract infections) occurred in 38 patients (46.3%). Despite the retrospective study design and the limited possibility of interpreting these findings and their causes, this rate indicates that patients suffering from late hip joint infections and being treated with a two-stage protocol are prone to having complications. Orthopaedic surgeons should be aware of these complications and their treatment options and focus on the early diagnosis for prevention of further complications. Between stages, an interdisciplinary cooperation with other facilities (internal medicine, microbiologists) should be aimed for patients with several comorbidities for optimizing their general medical condition.

Keywords: hip joint infection; hip spacers; prosthesis dislocation; spacer dislocation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Bone Cements / chemistry
  • Female
  • Hip Joint / pathology
  • Hip Joint / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy*
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bone Cements