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This article is the author’s final published version in JBJS Open Access, Volume 6, Issue 2, May 2021, Article number e20.00146.

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


Background: Patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty (TJA) following septic arthritis are at higher risk for developing periprosthetic joint infection (PJI). Minimal literature is available to guide surgeons on the optimal timing of TJA after completing treatment for prior native joint septic arthritis. This multicenter study aimed to determine the optimal timing of TJA after prior septic arthritis and to examine the role of preoperative serology in predicting patients at risk for developing PJI.

Methods: A total of 207 TJAs were performed after prior septic arthritis from 2000 to 2017 at 5 institutions. Laboratory values, prior treatment, time from the initial infection, and other variables were recorded. Bivariate analyses were performed to identify the association between the time from septic arthritis to TJA and the risk of developing subsequent PJI. A subanalysis was performed between patients who underwent TJA in 1 setting (n = 97) compared with those who underwent 2-stage arthroplasties (n = 110). Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed for serum markers prior to TJA in predicting the risk of a subsequent PJI.

Results: The overall PJI rate was 12.1%. Increasing time from septic arthritis treatment to TJA was not associated with a reduction of PJI, whether considering time as a continuous or categorical variable, for both surgical treatment cohorts (all p > 0.05). Although the ROC curve analysis found that the optimal threshold for timing of TJA from the initial treatment was 5.9 months, there was no difference in the PJI rate when the overall cohort was dichotomized by this threshold and when stratified by 1-stage compared with 2-stage TJA. There was no significant difference in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) level prior to conversion TJA between patients who subsequently developed PJI and those who did not.

Conclusions: Serum markers have limited value in predicting subsequent PJI in patients who undergo TJA after prior septic arthritis. There was no optimal interim period between septic arthritis treatment and subsequent TJA; thus, delaying a surgical procedure does not appear to reduce the risk of PJI.

Level of evidence: Prognostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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