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This article is the author’s final published version in JAMA Network Open, Volume 3, Issue 10, October 2020, Page e2021194.

The published version is available at Copyright © Wang et al.


Importance: Whether laminar airflow (LAF) in the operating room is effective for decreasing periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) after total joint arthroplasty remains a clinically important yet controversial issue.

Objective: To investigate the association between operating room LAF ventilation systems and the risk of PJI in patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty.

Design, Setting, and Participants: A retrospective cohort study was conducted of 6972 consecutive patients undergoing primary total knee arthroplasty or total hip arthroplasty at 2 surgical facilities within a single institution from January 1, 2013, to September 15, 2017, with a minimum of 1 year of follow-up. All procedures were performed by 5 board-certified arthroplasty surgeons. Statistical analysis was performed from January 1, 2014, to September 15, 2018.

Exposure: Patients underwent total joint arthroplasty in operating rooms equipped with either LAF or turbulent airflow.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Patient characteristics were extracted from clinical records. Periprosthetic joint infection was defined according to Musculoskeletal Infection Society criteria within 1 year of the index arthroplasty. A multivariable logistic regression model was performed to explore the potential association between LAF and risk of PJI at 1 year, and then a sensitivity analysis using propensity score matching was performed to further validate the findings.

Results: A total of 6972 patients (2797 who underwent total knee arthroplasty and 4175 who underwent total hip arthroplasty; 3690 women [52.9%]; mean [SD] age, 63.9 [10.7] years) were included. The incidence of PJI within 1 year for patients from the facility without LAF was similar to that of patients from the facility with LAF (0.4% [12 of 3027] vs 0.5% [21 of 3945]). In the multivariable logistic regression analysis, after all confounding factors were taken into account, the use of LAF was not associated with a reduction of the risk of PJI (adjusted odds ratio, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.40-2.19; P = .89). After propensity score matching, there was no significant difference in the incidence of PJI within 1 year for patients who underwent total joint arthroplasty at these 2 sites.

Conclusions and Relevance: This study suggests that the use of LAF in the operating room was not associated with a reduced incidence of PJI after primary total joint arthroplasty. With an appropriate perioperative protocol for infection prevention, LAF does not seem to play a protective role in PJI prevention.

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