Total Femur Antibiotic Spacers: Effective Salvage for Complex Periprosthetic Joint Infections

Mark J. Heidenreich, Matthew W. Tetreault, David G. Lewallen, Kevin I. Perry, Arlen D. Hanssen, Matthew P. Abdel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A simultaneous periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) of an ipsilateral hip and knee arthroplasty is a challenging complication of lower extremity reconstructive surgery. We evaluated the use of total femur antibiotic-impregnated polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) bone cement spacers in the staged treatment of such limb-threatening PJIs. Methods: Thirteen patients were treated with a total femur antibiotic spacer. The mean age at the time of spacer placement was 65 years. Nine patients had polymicrobial PJIs. All spacers incorporated vancomycin (3.0 g/40 g PMMA) and gentamicin (3.6 g/40 g PMMA), while 8 also included amphotericin (150 mg/40 g PMMA). Eleven spacers were biarticular. Twelve spacers were implanted through one longitudinal incision, while 8 of 12 reimplantations occurred through 2 smaller, separate hip and knee incisions. Mean follow-up after reimplantation was 3 years. Results: Twelve (92%) patients underwent reimplantation of a total femur prosthesis at a mean of 26 weeks. One patient died of medical complications 41 days after spacer placement. At latest follow-up, 3 patients had experienced PJI recurrence managed with irrigation and debridement. One required acetabular component revision for instability. All 12 reimplanted patients retained the total femur prosthesis with no amputations. Eleven (91%) were ambulatory, and 7 (58%) remained on suppressive antibiotics. Conclusion: Total femur antibiotic spacers are a viable, but technically demanding, limb-salvage option for complex PJIs involving the ipsilateral hip and knee. In the largest series to date, there were no amputations and 75% of reimplanted patients remained infection-free. Radical debridement, antimicrobial diversity, prolonged spacer retention, and limiting recurrent soft tissue violation are potential tenets of success. Level of Evidence: IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2567-2574
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • femur
  • periprosthetic fracture
  • polymicrobial infection
  • revision total hip arthroplasty
  • revision total knee arthroplasty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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