Periprosthetic Joint Infection in Patients with Inflammatory Joint Disease: a Review of Risk Factors and Current Approaches to Diagnosis and Management

Todd A. Morrison BS
Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA

Mark P. Figgie, MD
Mark P. Figgie, MD

Chief of the Surgical Arthritis Service, Hospital for Special Surgery
Associate Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon, Hospital for Special Surgery

Andy O. Miller, MD
Andy O. Miller, MD
Assistant Attending Physician, Hospital for Special Surgery
Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College
Susan M. Goodman, MD
Susan M. Goodman, MD
Associate Attending Physician, Hospital for Special Surgery
Associate Professor of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College



Prevention, early identification, and effective management of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) in patients with inflammatory joint disease (IJD) present unique challenges for physicians. Discontinuing disease-modifying anti-rheumatoid drugs (DMARDs) perioperatively may reduce immunosuppression and infection risk at the expense of increasing disease flares. Interpreting traditional diagnostic markers of PJI can be difficult due to disease-related inflammation.


This review is designed to answer how to (1) manage immunosuppressive/DMARD therapy perioperatively, (2) diagnose PJI in patients with IJD, and (3) treat PJI in this population.


The PubMed database was searched for relevant articles with subsequent review by independent authors.


While there is evidence to support the use of methotrexate perioperatively in RA patients, it remains unclear whether using anti-tumor necrosis factor medications perioperatively increases the risk of surgical site infections. Serum erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein can be useful for diagnosis of PJI in this population, but only as part of comprehensive workup that ultimately relies upon sampling of joint fluid. Management of PJI depends on several clinical factors including duration of infection and the likelihood of biofilm presence, the infecting organism, sensitivity to antibiotic therapy, and host immune status. The evidence suggests that two-stage revision or resection arthroplasty is more likely to eradicate infection, particularly when MRSA is the pathogen.


Immunosuppression and baseline inflammatory changes in the IJD population can complicate the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of PJI. Understanding the increase in risk associated with IJD and its treatment is essential for proper management when patients undergo lower extremity arthroplasty.

This article appears in HSS Journal: Volume 9, Number 2.
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About the HSS Journal

HSS Journal, an academic peer-reviewed journal published three times a year, February, July and October. The Journal accepts and publishes peer reviewed articles from around the world that contribute to the advancement of the knowledge of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders.


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