The Journal of Arthroplasty , Volume 33 , Issue 8 , 2575 - 2581

What Is the Role of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Sonication in Periprosthetic Joint Infections?

Hameister, Rita et al.
Hip Knee


Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is one of the most dreaded complications in joint replacement surgery. Diagnosis and treatment can be difficult and biofilms are of major concern due to their low susceptibility toward antibiotics.


This review focuses on the use of sonication as an evolving diagnostic and adjunct treatment modality in the context of PJI. Therapeutic application of sonication is discussed separately for its (i) direct action on bacteria, (ii) synergistic effects with antibiotics, and (iii) effects on release of antibiotics from bone cement.


Used as a diagnostic tool, sonication shows promising results with respect to sensitivity and specificity when compared to conventional methods, notably after previous administration of antibiotics. As an adjunct treatment modality, the chemical, physical, and mechanical effects of sonication are primarily driven by cavitation and recognized as the main cause for bactericidal effects but the exact underlying mechanisms have not been identified yet. Sonication alone does not have the ability to completely eradicate biofilms but synergistic effects when used in conjunction with antibiotics have been reported. There is also evidence for enhanced antibiotic release from bone cement.


Sonication is as an evolving modality in the context of PJIs. As a diagnostic tool, it has not been introduced in routine clinical practice and sonication as a treatment modality in PJIs is still in an experimental stage. Factors such as frequency, pressure, chemical activity, intensity, and exposure time need to be evaluated for optimal application of sonication and may also improve study comparison.

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