Developing a strategy to treat established infection in total knee replacement

A review of the latest evidence and clinical practice

I. S. Vanhegan, R. Morgan-Jones, D. S. Barrett, F. S. Haddad


This review summarises the opinions and conclusions reached from a symposium on infected total knee replacement (TKR) held at the British Association of Surgery of the Knee (BASK) annual meeting in 2011. The National Joint Registry for England and Wales reported 5082 revision TKRs in 2010, of which 1157 (23%) were caused by infection. The diagnosis of infection beyond the acute post-operative stage relies on the identification of the causative organism by aspiration and analysis of material obtained at arthroscopy. Ideal treatment then involves a two-stage surgical procedure with extensive debridement and washout, followed by antibiotics. An articulating or non-articulating drug-eluting cement spacer is used prior to implantation of the revision prosthesis, guided by the serum level of inflammatory markers. The use of a single-stage revision is gaining popularity and we would advocate its use in certain patients where the causative organism is known, no sinuses are present, the patient is not immunocompromised, and there is no radiological evidence of component loosening or osteitis.

It is our opinion that single-stage revision produces high-quality reproducible results and will soon achieve the same widespread acceptance as it does in infected hip arthroplasty.


  • No benefits in any form have been received or will be received from a commercial party related directly or indirectly to the subject of this article.

  • Received November 15, 2011.
  • Accepted March 1, 2012.
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