Alpha-Defensin Offers Limited Utility in Work-Up Prior to Reimplantation in Chronic Periprosthetic Joint Infection in Total Joint Arthroplasty Patients



      Alpha-defensin (AD) is a synovial biomarker included in the 2018 consensus criteria for diagnosing periprosthetic joint infection (PJI). Its value in assessing eradication of infection prior to second stage reimplantation is unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of AD on eligibility for reimplantation following resection for chronic PJI.


      This study included patients who previously underwent resection arthroplasty for PJI. Synovial fluid aspirated from 87 patients was retrospectively reviewed. All patients completed a 6-week course of intravenous antibiotics and an appropriate drug holiday. Synovial white blood cell count, percentage neutrophils, and culture from the AD immunoassay laboratory were reviewed with serum erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein values from our institution. A modified version of the 2018 consensus criteria was used, including white blood cell count, percentage neutrophils, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and C-reactive protein. AD was then added to determine if it changed diagnosis or clinical management.


      Four patients were categorized as “infected” (score >6), none exhibited a positive AD or positive culture. Sixty eight patients were diagnosed as “possibly infected” (score 2 to 5), none had a positive AD, and one had a positive culture (Cutibacterium acnes). AD did not change the diagnosis from “possibly infected” to “infected” in any case or alter treatment plans. Fifteen patients had a score of <2 (not infected) and none had a positive AD.


      The routine use of AD in the work-up prior to a second-stage arthroplasty procedure for PJI may not be warranted.


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