What is the optimal protocol to decontaminate a dropped custom polyethylene component?

Richard D. Swenson, Jamie L. Kraemer, Henry D Clarke, Thomas E. Grys, Adam J. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: With advancements in manufacturing technology, custom orthopedic implants have become commercially available. A new concern with these implants is what to do when custom heat-sensitive components are contaminated. While intraoperative decontamination protocols for dropped autograft tissue have been described, no literature describes an intraoperative protocol for decontaminating one-of-a-kind polyethylene implants. The purpose of this work is to describe and evaluate polyethylene decontamination protocols using materials found in the average operating suite that could be used intraoperatively. Methods: Sixteen custom polyethylene inserts were contaminated with potting soil and processed in one of four protocols: 1) hydrogen peroxide, 2) chlorhexidine gluconate, 3) povidone-iodine, or 4) control. Following processing, the implants were cultured with swabs or sonication. Each implant was evaluated with one aerobic, one anaerobic, and one fungal culture. Results: All cultures from implants processed with both the chlorhexidine and povidone-iodine protocols were negative. One colony of Ralstonia species was isolated on the aerobic culture from one of the implants processed with hydrogen peroxide. The remainder of the cultures from implants processed with the hydrogen peroxide protocol were negative. All of the cultures for each culture modality from all of the control implants were positive with florid proliferation. Conclusion: In the rare situation that a custom polyethylene insert becomes contaminated intraoperatively, the surgeon should consider all salvage options. Chlorhexidine and povidone-iodine decontamination protocols eliminated bacterial growth following culture swabs or sonicate taken from the contaminated polyethylene inserts while hydrogen peroxide failed in one case to completely eradicate growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • Custom implant
  • Decontamination
  • Periprosthetic joint infection
  • Total knee replacement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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