The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 34 , Issue 1 , 175 - 182

Persistent Wound Drainage After Total Joint Arthroplasty: A Narrative Review

Wagenaar, Frank-Christiaan B.M. et al.
Hip Knee


Persistent wound drainage after total joint arthroplasty (TJA) is an important complication with potential substantial adverse consequences, in particular periprosthetic joint infection.


This review evaluated the available literature regarding several issues in the field of persistent wound drainage after TJA and offers a classification of persistent wound drainage and an algorithmic approach to the decision-making process.


Available literature addressing the diagnosis and treatment of persistent wound drainage after TJA is scarce and an evidence-based clinical guideline is lacking. This is partially caused by the absence of a universally accepted definition of persistent wound drainage. In patients with persistent wound drainage, clinical signs and serological tests can be helpful in the diagnosis of a developing infection. Regarding the treatment of persistent wound drainage, nonsurgical treatment consists of absorbent dressings, pressure bandages, and temporary joint immobilization. Surgical treatment is advised when wound drainage persists for more than 5-7 days and consists of open debridement with irrigation and exchange of modular components and antimicrobial treatment.


Based on this literature review, we proposed a classification and algorithmic approach for the management of patients with persistent wound drainage after TJA. Hopefully, this offers the orthopedic surgeon a practical clinical guideline by finding the right balance between overtreatment and undertreatment, weighing the risks and benefits. However, this classification and algorithmic approach should first be evaluated in a prospective trial.

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