Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) can lead to a severe systemic inflammatory response and may result in systemic sepsis. However, little is known about how often systemic sepsis may occur in patients with PJI, and whether sepsis is associated with a greater likelihood of persistent or recurrent PJI.
(1) Among patients who present with acute or acute hematogenous PJI and who were treated with debridement, antibiotics, and implant retention (DAIR), what proportion have sepsis and what factors are associated with a presentation with sepsis? (2) For patients presenting with sepsis, what factors are associated with persistent or recurrent PJI?
In all, 320 patients who underwent DAIR for the treatment of acute postoperative or acute hematogenous PJI between January 2000 and December 2019 were included in this study. Exclusion criteria were patients with other known sources of infection, such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections, which could contribute to systemic sepsis (6% [18 of 320]), patients with chronic PJI, and those with less than 6 months of follow-up (21% [66 of 320]). Our final cohort consisted of 236 patients presenting with an acute postoperative or acute hematogenous PJI who underwent an irrigation and debridement procedure. Sepsis was defined by the criteria for systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) or bacteria-positive blood culture results. Inclusion of patients with positive blood culture by organisms that caused their joint infection was important as all patients presented with fulminant acute infection of a prosthetic joint. Data, including vital signs, surgical variables, and treatment outcomes, were collected retrospectively through a chart review of an electronic medical record system. The statistical analysis comparing patients with sepsis versus patients without sepsis consisted of logistic regression to identify factors associated with sepsis. After confirming its ability to identify patients with a higher association with the development of sepsis through area under the curve models, a nomogram was generated to standardize our results from the regression, which was supported by the area under the curve model, to help readers better identify patients who are more likely to develop sepsis.
A total of 44% (103 of 236) of patients had infections that met the criteria for sepsis. After controlling for confounding variables, including congestive heart failure, anemia, serum C-reactive protein (CRP), and the male sex, it was revealed that serum CRP (odds ratio 1.07 [95% confidence interval 1.04 to 1.11]; p < 0.001) and male sex (OR 1.96 [95% CI 1.03 to 3.81]; p = 0.04) were associated with the development of systemic sepsis. For patients presenting with sepsis, persistent or recurrent PJI were associated with an increased CRP level (OR 1.06 [95% CI 1.02 to 1.11]; p = 0.01) and number of prior surgical procedures on the joint (OR 2.30 [95% CI 1.21 to 4.89]; p = 0.02).
Overall, our findings support that patients with systematic sepsis may benefit from two-stage revision rather than DAIR to decrease the bioburden more effectively, especially in those with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and polymicrobial infections. High serum CRP levels and a history of prior surgical procedures on the involved joint should trigger prompt, aggressive surgical treatment if the patient’s overall clinical status can tolerate such an intervention.
Level of Evidence
Level III, therapeutic study.