Accurate and early diagnosis of orthopedic device-related infection by microbial heat production and sonication

J Orthop Res. 2013 Nov;31(11):1700-3. doi: 10.1002/jor.22419. Epub 2013 Jun 29.


Proper and rapid diagnosis of orthopedic device-related infection is important for successful treatment. Sonication has been shown to improve the diagnostic performance. We hypothesized that the combination of sonication with a novel method called microcalorimetry will further improve and accelerate the diagnosis of implant infection. We prospectively included 39 consecutive patients (mean age 59 years, 62% males) at our institution from whom 29 orthopedic prostheses and 10 osteosynthesis material were explanted. The explanted device was sonicated. The resulting sonication fluid was analyzed using microcalorimetry. Using standardized criteria to define orthopedic device-related infection, 12 cases (31%) were defined as infected. In all, positive periprosthetic tissue cultures were found. The sensitivity and specificity of microcalorimetry of sonication fluid were 100% and 97%, respectively. Mean time to detection, defined as time to reach a rising heat flow signal of 20 µW measured after equilibiration needed to get accurate measurement, was 10.9 h. In summary, microcalorimetry of sonication fluid is a reliable and a fast method in detecting the presence of microorganisms in orthopedic device-related infection.

Keywords: implanted orthopedic device; infection; microcalorimetry; sonication.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods*
  • Calorimetry
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Orthopedic Equipment / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / diagnosis*
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections / microbiology
  • Sonication
  • Thermogenesis