Do Pre-Reimplantation Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate/C-Reactive Protein Cutoffs Guide Decision-Making in Prosthetic Joint Infection? Are We Flying Blind?

Published:November 03, 2021DOI:



      Two-stage exchange is a commonly used approach for treating chronic periprosthetic joint infections (PJI). A pre-reimplantation threshold value of erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) to determine infection eradication and the proper timing of reimplantation remains ill-defined.


      We retrospectively reviewed 483 potential patients for eligibility. In total, 178 patients were excluded. In addition, 305 joints were eligible who underwent 2-stage revision for prosthetic hip or knee joint infection (PJI). Serum ESR and CRP were recorded at 8 weeks post resection prior to stage 2 reimplantation. ESR and CRP were analyzed with receiver operating characteristic curves (ROC) for response failure.


      In total, 252 patients had resections for chronic infections while 53 septic patients had resections for acute infections. Forty-one of 252 (16.3%) patients failed reimplantation. Median ESR at the time of reimplantation was 17 (normal less than 20 mm/h). Median CRP was 0.6 (normal less than 0.5 mg/dL). ROC plot for response failure in analyzing ESR found an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.47. ROC plot analyzing CRP found an AUC of 0.57. The ratio of ESR/CRP was also utilized and found an AUC of 0.60. All of the AUC data are in the “fail to discriminate category.”


      Although improvements in serology can be somewhat reassuring, there are no statistically significant values of ESR or CRP that would predict failure of reimplantation in the 2-stage treatment of PJI. Because we are flying blind consideration should be made for mandatory pre-reimplantation aspirates.

      Level of Evidence

      Level IV, Retrospective Case Series.


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