Sensitivities, specificities, and predictive values of microbiological culture techniques for the diagnosis of prosthetic joint infection

Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:180416. doi: 10.1155/2014/180416. Epub 2014 May 25.


Background: Identifying the microorganism in a prosthetic joint infection is the key to appropriately targeting antimicrobial treatment. Despite the availability of various techniques, no single test is considered the definitive gold standard.

Aim: Our aim was to determine the sensitivity, specificity, and positive/negative predictive values for a variety of culture techniques.

Methods: We performed a retrospective case series of 219 patients undergoing revision surgery of their hip or knee replacement between May 2004 and February 2013. The patients were classified as either infected or noninfected according to criteria set out by the Musculoskeletal Infection Society. The number and type of samples taken intraoperatively varied between cases but included tissue samples and fluid sent in either blood culture vials or sterile containers.

Results: The highest sensitivity was found with blood culture vials (0.85) compared to fluid in sterile containers (0.26) and tissues samples (0.32). Blood culture vials also had a better specificity and positive and negative predictive values profile.

Conclusion: We conclude that, of the techniques studied, fluid in blood culture vials had the best profile for the correct identification of microorganisms and advocate its use.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / blood*
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis*
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Bacteriological Techniques / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Prosthesis / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies