The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 35, Issue 5, 1351 - 1354

Screening for Periprosthetic Joint Infections With ESR and CRP: The Ideal Cutoffs

Bingham, Joshua S. et al.
Hip Knee


The purpose of this study was to (1) determine the sensitivity and specificity of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) when screening for a periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) using the standard MSIS cutoff of 30 mm/h and 10 mg/L, respectively, and (2) determine the optimal ESR and CRP cutoff to achieve a sensitivity ≥95%.


We retrospectively analyzed 81 PJI patients and 83 noninfected arthroplasty patients. We calculated the sensitivity and specificity (and 95% confidence intervals) for ESR and CRP at thresholds of 30 mm/h and 10 mg/L, respectively. We determined the optimal cutoff for both ESR and CRP to yield a sensitivity greater than or equal to 95%.


The ESR cutoff that resulted in a sensitivity ≥ to 95% (95% CI: 85.2-97.6%) was 10 mm/h, and the CRP cutoff that resulted in a sensitivity ≥ to 95% (95% CI: 87.1-98.4%) was 5 mg/L. The sensitivity and specificity with a combined ESR and CRP of 10 mm/h and 5 mg/L was 100% (95% CI: 94.1-100%) and 54.7% (95% CI: 46.4-62.3%).


When using ESR and CRP as a screening tool with the accepted cutoffs of 30 mm/h and 10 mg/L, there is an unacceptably low sensitivity and a high number of false negatives. Therefore, further recommendation must be given to lowering these thresholds to avoid the devastating morbidity of a missed PJI.

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