BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2019 20:179

Antibiotic-impregnated articulating cement spacer maintained for 7 years in situ for two-stage primary total knee arthroplasty: a case report

Yong-Beom Park, Chul-Won Ha, Jae Won Jang & Manyoung Kim


Antibiotic-impregnated articulating cement spacers can maintain interim joint motion with the potential to enhance functional status and improve patient satisfaction. Articular surfaces with cement against cement have raised concerns regarding mechanical complications and cement debris during knee motion. However, long-term clinical conditions regarding these concerns are not well addressed.

Case presentation

We report a case in which articulating cement spacers were maintained in situ for 7 years. The patient had severe left knee pain with an ankylosing knee and severe tricompartmental arthritis due to tuberculous infection. We planned to perform one- or two-stage primary total knee arthroplasty (TKA), depending on the presence of infection. Persistent osteomyelitis was found intraoperatively. The second-stage TKA was delayed on the patient’s request. As the patient was satisfied with the improved knee function and pain relief after using articulating cement spacers. No symptom or sign that suggested recurrent infection or systemic toxicity was found during the 7-year follow-up. However, it seemed that the bone loss progressed insidiously. At the 7-year follow-up, a broken articulating cement spacer and medial femoral condylar fracture were found. The second-stage TKA was performed, and a considerable amount of bone loss surrounded by dense granulation tissue was observed intraoperatively. Excisional biopsy of the tissue revealed chronic foreign body reaction with infiltration of giant cells and macrophages.


Although the articular spacers were maintained for 7 years without major complications, regular observation of the development and progress of bone loss was required. Surgeons should take considerable bone loss into account during conversion TKA in patients with a prolonged retention of articulating cement spacers.

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