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Joint aspiration with analysis of synovial fluid white blood cell count (WBC) and microbiological culture is a widely established aspect in the diagnosis of shoulder joint infections (SJI). In case of a two stage revision for SJI, joint aspiration before re-/implantation of a total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) was used to rule out persistent infection for years but its value is under debate. Shoulder specific data on all aspects is rare. The current study aims to answer the following research questions: Does joint aspiration have an insufficient predictive value in the diagnosis of SJI in (1) initial workup and (2) before definite arthroplasty with polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)-Spacer in place? This retrospective evaluation investigates 35 patients that were treated for SJI with a two staged implantation of a TSA after debridement and implantation of an PMMA-Spacer. Joint aspirations were performed preoperatively (PA) and before re-/implantation of the prosthesis while spacer was in place (interstage aspiration, IA). Samples were taken for microbiological culture and analysis of WBC. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated with reference to intraoperative microbiological samples. Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC), Area-Under-Curve analysis (AUC) and calculation of the Youden index were performed to find optimum cut-off for WBC. The sensitivity of microbiological cultures from PA was 58.3% and the specificity was 88.9%. The mean WBC was 27,800 leucocytes/mm3 (range 400-96,300). The maximum Youden index (0.857) was a cut-off of 2600 leucocytes/mm3 with a sensitivity of 85.7% and a specificity of 100.0%. The sensitivity and specificity of IA were 0.0% and 88.5%, respectively. Preoperative aspiration is likely to miss Cutibacteria spp. and CoNS and cannot rule out infection for sure. However, we recommend it for its advantages of targeted antibiotic therapy in case of germ identification. Empiric antibiotic therapy should cover Cutibacteria and CoNS even if aspiration showed negative microbiological cultures. In contrast, the diagnostic value of interstage aspiration does not qualify for its routine use. © 2022. The Author(s).


Laura Elisa Streck, Johannes Forster, Sebastian Philipp von Hertzberg-Boelch, Thomas Reichel, Maximilian Rudert, Kilian Rueckl. The role of synovial fluid aspiration in shoulder joint infections. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 2022 Apr 26;23(1):390

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PMID: 35473681

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