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It can be extremely challenging to determine whether to perform reimplantation in patients who have contradictory serum inflammatory markers and frozen section results. We investigated whether patients with a positive frozen section at reimplantation were at a higher risk of reinfection despite normal ESR and CRP. We retrospectively reviewed 163 consecutive patients with periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) who had normal ESR and CRP results pre-reimplantation in our hospital from 2014 to 2018. Of these patients, 26 had positive frozen sections at reimplantation. The minimum follow-up time was two years unless reinfection occurred within this period. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to identify the association between positive frozen sections and treatment failure. Treatment failure occurred in eight (30.77%) of the 26 PJI patients with positive frozen sections at reimplantation, compared with 13 (9.49%) of 137 patients with negative results. In the multivariate analysis, positive frozen section increased the risk of failure (odds ratio 4.70; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64 to 13.45). The mean number of months to reinfection was lower in the positive frozen section group than in the control group (p = 0.041). While there were nine (34.62%) patients with positive frozen section and 25 (18.25%) patients with negative frozen section who had prolonged antibiotic use (p = 0.042), the mean duration of antibiotic use was comparable in two groups. Synovial white blood cell count (p = 0.137) and polymorphonuclear leucocyte percentage (p = 0.454) were not associated with treatment failure in logistic regression model. Positive frozen section at reimplantation was independently associated with subsequent failure and earlier reinfection, despite normal ESR and CRP levels pre-reimplantation. Surgeons should be aware of the risk of treatment failure in patients with positive frozen sections and carefully consider benefits of reimplantation. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2021;103-B(5):916-922.


Jiang Qiao, Chi Xu, Wei Chai, Li-Bo Hao, Yonggang Zhou, Jun Fu, Jiying Chen. Positive frozen section during reimplantation increases the risk of treatment failure in two-stage exchange arthroplasty even in patients with normal ESR and CRP. The bone & joint journal. 2021 May;103-B(5):916-922

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PMID: 33934662

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