Background: The erythrocyte sedimentation rate, the C-reactive protein serum level, and the white blood-cell count are routinely used to diagnose periprosthetic infection. In the present study, the diagnostic accuracy of the interleukin-6 serum level was compared with the accuracy of these standard tests for the evaluation of a group of patients who had had a total hip or total knee arthroplasty and were undergoing a reoperation for the treatment of an infection or another implant-related problem.
Methods: A prospective, case-control study of fifty-eight patients who had had a total hip or knee replacement and were undergoing a reoperation because of an infection (seventeen patients) or another implant-related problem (forty-one patients) was conducted. The serum levels of interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and the white blood-cell count were measured. The definitive diagnosis of an infection was determined on the basis of positive histopathological evidence of infection and growth of bacteria on culture of intraoperative specimens. Two-sample Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann-Whitney) tests were used to determine the presence of a significant difference between patients with and without infection with regard to each laboratory value studied. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of each text were also calculated.
Results: The serum interleukin-6 level, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein level were significantly higher in patients who had an infection than in those who did not, both when all patients were considered together and when the total hip arthroplasty and total knee arthroplasty groups were considered separately. With the numbers available, there was no significant difference with regard to the white blood-cell count between patients with and without infection. With a normal serum interleukin-6 level defined as <10 pg/mL, the serum interleukin-6 test had a sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and accuracy of 1.0, 0.95, 0.89, 1.0, and 97%, respectively.
Conclusions: An elevated serum interleukin-6 level correlated positively with the presence of periprosthetic infection in patients undergoing a reoperation at the site of a total hip or knee arthroplasty. The serum interleukin-6 level is valuable for the diagnosis of periprosthetic infection in patients who have had a total hip or total knee arthroplasty.
Level of Evidence: Diagnostic Level IV. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1 Musculoskeletal Research Center, Room 1500, NYU-Hospital for Joint Diseases, 301 East 17th Street, New York, NY 10003. E-mail address for P.E. Di Cesare: firstname.lastname@example.org