Acta Orthopaedica, 85:2, 159-164, DOI: 10.3109/17453674.2014.899848

Bacterial contamination of the wound during primary total hip and knee replacement

Eythor Örn Jonsson, Hera Johannesdottir, Otto Robertsson & Brynjolfur Mogensen
Hip Knee

Background and purpose — Previous work has shown that despite preventive measures, intraoperative contamination of joint replacements is still common, although most of these patients seem to do well in follow-up of up to 5 years. We analyzed the prevalence and bacteriology of intraoperative contamination of primary joint replacement and assessed whether its presence is related to periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) on long-term follow-up.

Patients and methods — 49 primary total hip replacements (THRs) and 41 total knee replacements (TKRs) performed between 1990 and 1991 were included in the study. 4 bacterial swabs were collected intraoperatively during each procedure. Patients were followed up for joint-related complications until March 2011.

Results — 19 of 49 THRs and 22 of 41 TKRs had at least 1 positive culture. Coagulase-negative staphylococci and Staphylococcus aureus were the most common organisms, contaminating 28 and 9 operations respectively. Where information was available, bacteria from 27 of 29 contaminated operations were susceptible to the prophylactic antibiotic administered. 13% of samples gathered before 130 min of surgery were contaminated, as compared to 35% collected after that time. 2 infections were diagnosed, both in TKRs. 1 of them may have been related to intraoperative contamination.

Interpretation — Intraoperative contamination was common but few infections occurred, possibly due to the effect of prophylactic antibiotics. The rate of contamination was higher with longer duration of surgery. It appears that positive results from intraoperative swabs do not predict the occurrence of PJI.

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