Background: Retrieval analysis has long served the orthopaedic community as a tool for understanding implant failure modes; however, what retrieval studies can reveal about the nature of prosthetic joint infection (PJI) remains unknown. We hypothesize that records from a comprehensive joint retrieval program should corroborate clinically-reported temporal characteristics of prosthesis-related infection. Methods: We examined 2527 records documenting a decade of explanted hip and knee components to quantify the following: (1) the relative contribution of infection to revision arthroplasty; (2) the effects of joint type, revision status, and reason for retrieval on indwelling time; and (3) whether the temporal distribution of infected explants reflects clinical experience. Results: In this series, 20% (507/2527) of explants were performed for infection, with PJI being more commonly implicated in the retrieval of revision implants than of primaries. Infected prostheses were explanted 23.2 months sooner on average than those retrieved for other causes. Within the subset of infected devices, revision components were explanted 11.2 months sooner than primaries, with no appreciable difference observed between hips and knees. Retrieval-based temporal distributions were most similar to PJI studies with endpoint enrollment or long duration follow-up, suggesting a later average onset of infection than reported in comparable clinical studies with short (<10-year) follow-up. Conclusions: Infection represents a major cause of revision arthroplasty, and is associated with shorter indwelling times in revision components than in primaries. Studies with less than 10 years of follow-up are likely to under-report late PJI.
Kokko, M. A., Abdel, M. P., Berry, D. J., Butler, R. D., & Van Citters, D. W. (2019). A retrieval analysis perspective on revision for infection. Arthroplasty Today, 5(3), 362–370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.artd.2019.03.007