The Journal of Arthroplasty, Volume 34, Issue 7, 1462 - 1469

Management of Chronically Infected Total Knee Arthroplasty With Severe Bone Loss Using Static Spacers With Intramedullary Rods

Hipfl, Christian et al.


Two-stage revision with static antibiotic spacers is the preferred treatment for chronically infected total knee arthroplasty (TKA) associated with severe bone loss. Intramedullary rods to reinforce static spacers have been described. On those, however, bacterial colonization may occur and hamper infection control. This study reports the microbiological findings on the spacer rods and the treatment outcome among these patients.


We reviewed 97 infected TKA with extensive bone loss treated with antibiotic-loaded cement spacers reinforced with intramedullary rods. Mean interim period with the spacer in situ was 9 weeks (range: 6-24 weeks). Intraoperative cultures and sonicated spacer rods were analyzed. Mean follow-up after TKA reimplantation was 41 months (range: 27-56 months). Treatment success was defined using the modified Delphi consensus criteria.


Twenty-two patients (23%) had treatment failure, including 3 reinfections caused by the same organism, 9 reinfections caused by a different organism, 9 patients required interim spacer exchange, and 1 patient died in the early postoperative course. Sonication cultures of the spacer rods were positive in 2 cases (2%), and none of them failed. Host and limb status was significantly worse in patients who sustained reinfection. At the latest follow-up, all patients had a TKA in place, and 2 patients received chronic antibiotic suppression.


Two-stage revision with the use of intramedullary rods is a safe and efficient treatment for chronically infected TKA with severe bone loss. Most reinfections grew different organisms compared with initial infection. Compromised hosts and extremities may be subjected to chronic antibiotic suppression.

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