Are Intraoperative Cultures Necessary If the Aspiration Culture Is Positive? A Concordance Study in Periprosthetic Joint Infection

K. Keely Boyle, Milan Kapadia, Yu fen Chiu, Tyler Khilnani, Andy O. Miller, Michael W. Henry, Stephen Lyman, Alberto V. Carli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The concordance between preoperative synovial fluid culture and multiple intraoperative tissue cultures for identifying pathogenic microorganisms in periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) remains unknown. Our aim is to determine the diagnostic performance of synovial fluid culture for early organism identification. Methods: A total of 363 patients who met Musculoskeletal Infection Society criteria for PJI following primary total joint arthroplasty were identified from a retrospective joint infection database. Inclusion criteria required a positive preoperative intra-articular synovial fluid sample within 90 days of intraoperative tissue culture(s) at revision surgery. Concordance was defined as matching organism(s) in aspirate and intraoperative specimens. Results: Concordance was identified in 279 (76.8%) patients with similar rates among total hip arthroplasties (77.2%) and total knee arthroplasties (76.4%, P = .86). Culture discordance occurred in 84 (23.1%) patients; 37 (10.2%) had no intraoperative culture growth and 33 (90.1%) were polymicrobial. Monomicrobial Staphylococcal PJI cases had high sensitivity (0.96, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.92-0.98) and specificity (0.85, 95% CI 0.80-0.90). Polymicrobial infections had the lowest sensitivity (0.06, 95% CI 0.01-0.19). Conclusion: Aspiration culture has favorable sensitivity and specificity when compared to tissue culture for identifying the majority of PJI organisms. Clinicians can guide surgical treatment and postoperative antibiotics based on monomicrobial aspiration results, but they should strongly consider collecting multiple tissue cultures to maximize the chance of identifying an underlying polymicrobial PJI. Level of Evidence: Level III.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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