Document Type


Publication Date



This article is the author's final published version in Arthroplasty, Volume 5, Issue 1, December 2023, Article number 36.

The published version is available at Copyright © The Author(s) 2023.



In severe cases of periprosthetic joint infection involving negative host-dependent factors, individual-based decisions between a curative therapy vs. salvage procedure are necessary. We aimed to review salvage procedures in severe periprosthetic joint infection cases, where a gold standard of a curative two-stage exchange can no longer be achieved. The options of knee arthrodesis, amputation, persistent fistula (stable drainage), or a debridement, antibiotics, and implant retention procedure in late-onset cases are discussed, including lifelong antibiotic suppression alone.


We focused on known salvage procedures for severe periprosthetic joint infection of the hip and knee, such as amputation, arthrodesis, antibiotic suppression, persistent fistula, and debridement, antibiotics, and implant retention in late-stage infections, and the role of local antibiotics. The current literature regarding indications and outcomes was reviewed.


Whereas a successful single-stage above-knee amputation can be a curative effort in younger patients, this is associated with limited outcome in older patients, as the proportion who receive an exoprosthesis leading to independent mobility is low. Therefore, arthrodesis using an intramedullary modular nail is an option for limb salvage, pain reduction, and preservation of quality of life and everyday life mobility, when revision total knee arthroplasty is not an option. Carrying out a persistent fistula using a stable drainage system, as well as a lifelong antibiotic suppression therapy, can be an option, in cases where no other surgery is possible. Active clinical surveillance should then be carried out. A debridement, antibiotics, and implant retention procedure in combination with local degradable antibiotics can be used and is an encouraging new option, but should not been carried out twice.


Whereas the gold standard in periprosthetic joint infection treatment of late infections remains the exchange of the prosthesis, salvage procedures should be considered in the cases of reduced life expectancy, several recurrences of the infection, patients having preference and negative host factors. In these cases, the appropriate salvage procedure can temporarily lead to remission of the infection and the possibility to maintain mobility.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



Included in

Orthopedics Commons