Diagnosis of knee prosthetic joint infection; aspiration and biopsy.

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Prosthetic joint infection (PJI) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality following knee replacement surgery. The diagnosis can be challenging and is based on a combination of clinical suspicion, radiographic findings and also biochemical/ microbiological investigations. Our Aim was to review the role of aspiration and biopsy in the diagnosis of PJI in Total Knee Arthroplasty (TKA).Aspirated synovial fluid should be analysed by direct culture, via blood culture bottles, EDTA bottles for cell count and ‘point of care’ testing such as leucocyte esterase or alpha defensin. Synovial WCC and PMN cell percentage are important steps in diagnosis of both acute and chronic PJI. A minimum of 5 deep samples using a 5 clean instrument technique should be obtained and sent for tissue culture done either blind or arthroscopic. Formal fluoroscopic guided interface biopsy has also been described with excellent results. In a recent series of 86 TKRs preoperative arthroscopic biopsy group had a sensitivity of 100%, specificity of 94.7%, positive predictive value of 87.4% and a negative predictive value of 100%.In the presence of clinical suspicion with raised biomarkers, it is recommended that aspiration +/- biopsy with synovial fluid testing is performed. Direct culture and cell count are recommended. ‘Point of care tests’ such as Leucocyte Esterase testing should be considered. Duration of culture, including pathogen and host factors, should be discussed with a local microbiology/ID department in the context of a formal multi-disciplinary team.

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Authors: Omer Salar, Jonathan Phillips, Robert Porter