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Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 542796, 7 pages
Review Article

Periprosthetic Joint Infections

Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, University of São Paulo, 05403-010 São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Received 27 June 2013; Accepted 17 July 2013

Academic Editor: Dino Vaira

Copyright © 2013 Ana Lucia L. Lima et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Implantation of joint prostheses is becoming increasingly common, especially for the hip and knee. Infection is considered to be the most devastating of prosthesis-related complications, leading to prolonged hospitalization, repeated surgical intervention, and even definitive loss of the implant. The main risk factors to periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) are advanced age, malnutrition, obesity, diabetes mellitus, HIV infection at an advanced stage, presence of distant infectious foci, and antecedents of arthroscopy or infection in previous arthroplasty. Joint prostheses can become infected through three different routes: direct implantation, hematogenic infection, and reactivation of latent infection. Gram-positive bacteria predominate in cases of PJI, mainly Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. PJIs present characteristic signs that can be divided into acute and chronic manifestations. The main imaging method used in diagnosing joint prosthesis infections is X-ray. Computed tomography (CT) scan may assist in distinguishing between septic and aseptic loosening. Three-phase bone scintigraphy using technetium has high sensitivity, but low specificity. Positron emission tomography using fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET) presents very divergent results in the literature. Definitive diagnosis of infection should be made by isolating the microorganism through cultures on material obtained from joint fluid puncturing, surgical wound secretions, surgical debridement procedures, or sonication fluid. Success in treating PJI depends on extensive surgical debridement and adequate and effective antibiotic therapy. Treatment in two stages using a spacer is recommended for most chronic infections in arthroplasty cases. Treatment in a single procedure is appropriate in carefully selected cases.