Is There an Optimal Cutoff for Aspiration Fluid Volume in the Diagnosis of Periprosthetic Joint Infection?

Zachary A. Rockov, Henry D. Clarke, Thomas E. Grys, Yu Hui H. Chang, Adam J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The diagnosis of periprosthetic joint infection is often challenging in the setting of low aspiration volumes, or in the presence of infection with a slow-growing organism. We sought to determine if an optimal threshold of aspiration fluid volume exists when cultures from the preoperative aspiration are compared to intraoperative cultures. Methods: All revision total hip and knee arthroplasty procedures over 5 years at our institution were reviewed. Cases were excluded if they underwent joint lavage during aspiration, had an antibiotic spacer in place, were suspected of adverse local tissue reaction to metal debris, did not have an accurate aspiration volume recorded, or if there were no aspiration or operative cultures available. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to evaluate aspiration volume for identifying cases with identical aspiration and culture results. Results: A total of 857 revision cases were reviewed, among which 294 met inclusion criteria. There were 45 cases (15.3%) with discordant aspiration and operative cultures. The mean aspiration volume for identical cases was significantly higher than for discordant cases (19.1 vs 10.2 mL, P =.02). The proportion of slow-growing organisms was significantly greater among discordant compared to identical operative cultures (52.4% for discordant cases vs 8.2% for identical cases, P <.001). The optimal cutoff value for predicting identical cultures was 3.5 mL for typical organisms and 12.5 mL for slow-growing organisms. Conclusion: Aspiration cultures are more likely to correlate with intraoperative cultures with higher aspiration volumes, and the optimal aspiration volume is higher for slow-growing organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2217-2222
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Musculoskeletal Infection Society criteria
  • culture technique
  • optimal cutoff
  • periprosthetic joint infection
  • total hip arthroplasty
  • total knee arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Is There an Optimal Cutoff for Aspiration Fluid Volume in the Diagnosis of Periprosthetic Joint Infection?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this