The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 2, 544 - 549

Persistent Fistula for Treatment of a Failed Periprosthetic Joint Infection: Relic From the Past or a Viable Salvage Procedure?

Troendlin, Florian et al.
Hip Knee


New treatment algorithms for periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) show high success rates in achieving permanent infection eradication with some degree of failure. Different salvage procedures are described, but there is no evidence for persistent fistula (PF). The purpose of this study was to analyze PF as a salvage procedure in patients with therapy-resistant PJIs.


This retrospective analysis included all patients treated with PF (2005-2018) in a maximum care center with PJI (knee or hip). The baseline parameters (age, sex, BMI) and other data (number of surgeries, pathogen spectrum, American Society of Anesthesiologists classification) were recorded. The function was documented using the Harris Hip Score, the Knee Society Score, and the quality of life using the SF-36 Health Survey.


A total of 159 patients were included (80 ± 12 years) and subdivided into four groups: hip (n = 66), knee (n = 13), Girdlestone resection arthroplasty (n = 50), knee arthrodesis (n = 27). Patients stayed 111 ± 87 days in the hospital, underwent six operations and three revisions after establishing PF. The mean American Society of Anesthesiologists score was 2.7. The BMI was 31 ± 3 kg/m 2 ( P = .1). The follow-up was 2.8 ± 0.5 years including 27 patients. The Harris Hip Score and Knee Society Score were 38 and 34, respectively. SF-36 showed no significant difference.


The study showed poor outcomes regarding quality of life and the function of the infected joint. Therefore, the indication for establishing a PF in the treatment of PJI must be assessed very critically. PF is only an option for multimorbid patients with a limited life expectancy.

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