The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 6, 1201 - 1206

The Influence of Spacer Design on the Rate of Complications in Two-Stage Revision Hip Arthroplasty

Jones, Christopher W. et al.


Antibiotic cement spacers are used during 2-stage revision total hip arthroplasty for prosthetic joint infection. Complications including dislocation and periprosthetic fracture have been reported but a large cohort comparing spacer design features is lacking. We aimed to determine if spacer design is associated with perioperative complications.


We performed a retrospective review of antibiotic cement spacers implanted between 2004 and 2014. Radiographic assessment included leg length, offset, and bone loss (Paprosky classification). Clinical outcomes included dislocation, periprosthetic fracture, spacer fracture, infection cure, and overall reoperation rate. Univariate analysis, Student’s t-test, chi-squared test, or Kruskal-Wallis test was employed ( P < .05).


One hundred eighty-five patients were treated: 42% were female and mean age was 64 years (range 24-93, standard deviation 13.6). Spacer types were (1) molded (53%), (2) antibiotic-coated prosthesis (30%), (3) handmade (12%); and (4) prefabricated (4%). Cemented acetabular liners were used in 3% (6/185). There was no loss to follow-up during the interstage period. Spacer complications occurred in 26% (48/185). Dislocation occurred in 9% (17/185) and was associated with reduced femoral offset of >5 mm ( P = .033) and increased bone loss ( P = .01). Spacer fracture occurred in 8% (14/185); 12% (12/97) molded versus 8% (2/23) handmade ( P = .02). Periprosthetic femur fracture was associated with increased offset >5 mm ( P = .01) and extended trochanteric osteotomy (P = .001).


During 2-stage total hip arthroplasty, antibiotic-loaded cement spacers had an overall complication rate of 26%. Spacer design, acetabular and femoral bone loss, and offset restoration were significantly associated with perioperative complications. We recommend the optimization of antibiotic-loaded cement spacer placement to minimize potential complications by focusing on restoration of leg-length and offset, ensuring adequate femoral fixation and paying attention to selection of an appropriate head/neck ratio.

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