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29.10.2018 | Orthopaedic Surgery | Ausgabe 3/2019 Open Access

Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery 3/2019

A new perspective on current prosthetic joint infection classifications: introducing topography as a key factor affecting treatment strategy

Archives of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery > Ausgabe 3/2019
Antonio Pellegrini, Claudio Legnani, Enzo Meani


Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is a relatively frequent and devastating complication following prosthetic joint implantation. Several classification systems have been presented by various authors and are routinely used in clinical practice to help in early diagnosis and treatment. The most widely accepted classifications of periprosthetic infections rely on the timing of clinical presentation. Unfortunately, these schemes possess important shortcomings which limit their usefulness in clinical practice, as data reported in literature are contrasting, with success rate ranging from 60 to 80%, irrespectively of prosthetic infection timing. An attempt is made by us to update the current knowledge on PJIs by looking them from a different perspective, introducing a topographic principle in their classification. Our approach is based on the theory that identifying the exact location of the bacterial colonization may allow to decide whether to conservatively treat the patient or to perform a more radical intervention. The aim is to improve the understanding of the aetiology of this serious complication, lead to the appropriate treatment strategy according to the stage of the disease thus enhancing the outcomes of surgical management. Such a strategy, if widely accepted, could guide research studies on the management of PJIs. The availability of investigations like scintigraphy could aid in identifying pathogenetic processes and their exact location, which may be missed on conventional radiographs, and could enable orthopaedic surgeons to have a better understanding of PJI patterns.

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