Advancements in Diagnosing Periprosthetic Joint Infections after Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

Ripal Patel, Pouya Alijanipour, Javad Parvizi*
Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

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© Patel et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University, 125 South 9th Street, Suite #1000, Philadelphia, PA 19107, Pennsylvania, USA; Tel: 267-339-3736; Fax: 267-339-3696; E-mails:,


Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is a complication of total joint arthroplasty that is challenging to diagnose. Currently, there is no “gold standard” for definite diagnosis of PJI. A multi-criteria definition has been described for PJI based on microbiology cultures, serum markers, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein (CRP), synovial fluid biomarkers, such as leukocyte esterase and histopathology assessment of the periprosthetic tissue. The conventional serum markers are generally nonspecific and can be elevated in inflammatory conditions. Therefore, they cannot be relied on for definite diagnosis of PJI. Hence, with the use of proteomics, synovial fluid biomarkers such as α-defensin, IL-6, and CRP have been proposed as more accurate biomarkers for PJI. Current methods to culture micro-organisms have several limitations, and can be false-negative and false-positive in a considerable number of cases. In an attempt to improve culture sensitivity, diagnostic methods to target biofilms have recently been studied. The understanding of the concept of biofilms has also allowed for the development of novel techniques for PJI diagnosis, such as visualizing biofilms with fluorescent in-situ hybridization and detection of bacteria via DNA microarray. Lastly, the use of amplification-based molecular techniques has provided methods to identify specific species of bacteria that cause culture-negative PJI. While diagnosing PJI is difficult, these advances could be valuable tools for clinicians.

Keywords: Advancements, Arthroplasty, Biofilms, Diagnosis, Molecular diagnostic techniques, Prosthesis-related infections, Serum markers, Synovial fluid markers.