Introduction: Diagnosing a (low-grade) periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) after hip or knee arthroplasty remains a diagnostic challenge. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of using a novel multiplex protein microarray system for synovial biomarkers in determining PJI in patients undergoing revision knee or hip arthroplasty.
Materials and methods: The individual synovial fluid levels of 12 cytokines (IL-1b, IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IL-17, GM-CSF, TNF-α, and INF-γ) were analysed with a novel multiplex protein microarray system in 32 patients undergoing revision hip (n = 22) or knee (n = 10) arthroplasty. Cases were classified into septic and aseptic groups on basis of pre- and interoperative findings: [PJI (n = 14) vs. non-PJI (n = 18)]. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated to assess the discriminatory strength of the individual parameters. A multiple regression model was used to determine the utility of using a combination of the tested cytokines to determine the infection status.
Results: The levels of all of the evaluated cytokines were significantly elevated in the PJI-group. Best sensitivity and specificity were found for IL-6, followed by IL-1b, IL-10, and IL-17. The multiple regression models revealed a combination of IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL6, lL-12, and GM-CSF to be associated with the best sensitivity (100%) and specificity (88.9%) for a cut-off value of 0.41, with a likelihood ratio of 9.0.
Conclusion: Analysis of individual synovial fluid cytokine levels showed both high sensitivity and high specificity in diagnosing PJI. A combined model using several cytokines showed even higher sensitivity and specificity in diagnosing PJI and could thus be a useful predictive tool to determine the probability of PJI in patients with a painful prosthesis.
Level of evidence: Diagnostic IV.
Keywords: Cytokine; Periprosthetic joint infection; Revision arthroplasty; Synovial fluid.