Intra-articular injections containing a corticosteroid are used frequently, and periprosthetic joint infection is a serious complication after total joint arthroplasty. There is debate regarding whether intra-articular corticosteroid injections before arthroplasty increase periprosthetic joint infection after surgery.
(1) Does a previous intra-articular corticosteroid injection increase the odds of infection after subsequent hip or knee arthroplasty? (2) Does this risk vary based on how soon before the arthroplasty (such as less than 3 months before surgery) the injection is administered?
Using the PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and Web of Science databases from inception to July 2021, we searched for comparative studies in English on patients who received intra-articular corticosteroid injections before arthroplasty and that tracked the frequency of infection after arthroplasty. We extracted data on the risk of infection after subsequent joint arthroplasty. The keywords included “corticosteroid,” “steroid,” “arthroplasty,” “knee replacement,” and “hip replacement.” Eleven retrospective, comparative studies from four countries were included, of which 10 reported the specific diagnosis criteria and one did not. These articles included data on 173,465 arthroplasties in the hip or knee, as well as of 73,049 injections and 100,416 control patients. The methodologic quality of the included studies was evaluated according to the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale; the articles’ scores ranged from 6 to 7 (the score itself spans 0 to 9, with higher scores representing better study quality). We found no evidence of publication bias based on the Egger test, and tests of heterogeneity generally found heterogeneity, so a random-effects model was used of our meta-analyses. A meta-analysis was performed with Review Manager 5.3 software and Stata version 12.0 software.
Overall, there were no differences in the odds of periprosthetic joint infection between the injection group and the control group among patients who received any kind of injection (odds ratio 1.22 [95% CI 0.95 to 1.58]; p = 0.12). However, in a subgroup analysis, there was a higher OR for postoperative PJI in patients with an intra-articular corticosteroid injection in the knee or hip within 3 months (OR 1.39 [95% CI 1.04 to 1.87]; p = 0.03). There were no differences in the infection risk in patients who had injections between 3 and 6 months before arthroplasty (OR 1.19 [95% CI 0.95 to 1.48]; p = 0.13) or between 6 and 12 months before arthroplasty.
The current evidence suggests ipsilateral intra-articular corticosteroid injections within 3 months before arthroplasty were associated with an increased risk of periprosthetic joint infection during subsequent joint arthroplasty. We recommend against performing total joint arthroplasty on a patient who has received an intra-articular corticosteroid injection within 3 months. Further high-quality studies on this topic from registries, national databases, or insurance company data are still required to confirm and extend our findings.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study.