The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 31, Issue 12, 2875 - 2879.e2

Incidence, Risk Factors, and Sources of Sepsis Following Total Joint Arthroplasty

The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 31, Issue 12, 2875 - 2879.e2
Hip Knee


Sepsis is a rare but serious complication following total joint arthroplasty (TJA). Common sources include urinary tract infection (UTI), surgical site infection (SSI), and pneumonia. The purpose of this study is to characterize the incidence, risk factors, and sources of sepsis following TJA.


Patients undergoing primary total hip arthroplasty or total knee arthroplasty during 2005-2013 were identified in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. Independent associations were tested for using multivariate regression adjusting for baseline characteristics.


A total of 117,935 patients were identified (45,612 undergoing total hip arthroplasty and 72,323 undergoing total knee arthroplasty). Of these, 402 (0.34%) developed sepsis following surgery. Patients who developed sepsis had an elevated mortality rate (3.7% vs 0.1%, P < .001). Among the 402 patients who developed sepsis, 124 (31%) had concomitant UTI, 110 (27%) SSI, and 60 (15%) pneumonia. Twenty-one patients (5%) had multiple infectious sources and 129 patients (32%) had no identifiable source. Independent risk factors for sepsis included greater age, male sex, functional dependence, insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, current smoker, and greater operative time.


These findings suggest that the rate of sepsis following TJA is about 1 in 300, and that sepsis is associated with a high risk of mortality. The most common sources of sepsis are UTI, SSI, and pneumonia, potentially accounting for at least two-thirds of cases. The information provided here can be used to guide the diagnostic workup of sepsis in patients following TJA.

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