International Orthopaedics May 2012, Volume 36, Issue 5, pp 927–933

Surgical therapy of hip-joint empyema. Is the Girdlestone arthroplasty still up to date?

Oheim, R., Gille, J., Schoop, R. et al.
Hip

Purpose

Hip-joint empyema is a severe local infection that can cause general illness and, in the worst-case scenario, death by septic complications. For severe hip-joint infections, the Girdlestone arthroplasty has been an established treatment option for many decades. We describe functional midterm results after treatment of haematological and postoperative hip-joint infections.

Methods

From 2000 to 2010, 24 patients underwent surgical treatment for 27 hip-joint empyemas. The surgical procedures included radical debridement, implantation of local antibiotic beads and soft tissue management. Besides clinical, laboratory and imaging parameters, we analysed the Harris hip score (HHS).

Results

Twenty-three patients (26 hips) were followed up after a mean of 30 (3.1–126.8) months. The study group consists of 12 men and 11 women, with an average height of 1.71 m, weight of 84.7 kg and body mass index (BMI) of 28.6 kg/m2. Hip-joint empyema was due to haematological septic spread in eight patients, surgery related in 12 hips and other causes in six cases. One patient died due to septic complications during the hospital stay. Intraoperative bacterial culture was positive in 50%, with Staphylococcus aureus as the most common organism (n = 11). Average hospital stay was 35 days. HHS significantly improved from 18.2 preoperatively to 47.8 at follow-up. Functional results were mainly poor, but pain relief increased significantly. The infection control rate was 96% with four (15%) complications.

Conclusion

Resection arthroplasty by Girdlestone is able to control infection in most cases with an acceptable complication rate but poor functional results. In conclusion, the Girdlestone arthroplasty still is an essential surgical strategy for treating hip-joint empyema in cases in which functional outcome is of lesser priority.


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