Spacer exchange in persistent periprosthetic joint infection: microbiological evaluation and survivorship analysis

Arch Orthop Trauma Surg. 2022 Jan 14. doi: 10.1007/s00402-021-04300-5. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: The purposes of this study were to determine demographics and characteristics of patients who underwent spacer exchange for persistent infection in the setting of two-stage arthroplasty for periprosthetic joint infection, to describe the microbiology of pathogens involved, to analyze survivorship free from infection in these patients.

Methods: The institutional prospectively collected database was reviewed to enroll patients with minimum 2 years follow-up. Patients who underwent two-stage procedure for septic arthritis were excluded, as were patients who had spacer fracture or dislocation.

Results: A total of 34 patients (41 procedures) were included. Mean age was 65.0 ± 12.8 years. Mean follow-up was 53.4 ± 24.8 months. Mean number of previous procedures was 3.6 ± 1.2. A total of 27 (79.4%) patients underwent final reimplantation. The most frequently isolated pathogen in spacer exchange was Staphylococcus epidermidis (10 cases, 28.6%). Polymicrobial cultures were obtained from 9 (25.71%) patients, 10 (28.6%) presented culture-negative infections. A total of 11 (32.4%) resistant pathogens were isolated, and 16 (47.0%) difficult to treat pathogens were detected. Eradication rate was 78.8%. Overall survivorship of implants after final reimplantation was 72.8% at 51.8 months.

Conclusion: Surgeons should be aware that subjects necessitating spacer exchange often present multiple comorbidities, previous staged revision failures, soft-tissue impairment and difficult to treat infection. In these patients, spacer exchange provides good clinical results and infection eradication, preventing arthrodesis or amputation.

Keywords: Bone infection; Periprosthetic joint infection; Total hip revision; Total knee revision.