Treatment in periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) remains challenging. The failure rate of two-stage revision and irrigation and debridement with component retention in PJI suggests that biofilm cells have a high tolerance to antibiotic chemotherapy. Previous work has demonstrated that biofilm cells have high antibiotic tolerance in vitro, but there is little clinical evidence to support these observations. The aim of this study was to determine if retrieved antibiotic spacers from two-stage revision total knee arthroplasty for PJI have evidence of remaining viable bacteria. Antibiotic poly (methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) spacers from two-stage revision total knee arthroplasty for PJI were prospectively collected and analyzed for bacterial 16s rRNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), reverse transcription (RT)-PCR, quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR), and single genome analysis (SGA). PCR and RT-PCR identified bacterial species on 53.8% (7/13) of these samples. When initial culture negative cases are excluded, 68% (6/9) samples were identified with bacterial species. A more rigorous qRT-PCR analysis showed a strong positive signal for bacterial contamination in 30.7% (4/13) of cases. These patients did not show any clinical evidence of PJI recurrence after 15 months of follow-up. Because the half-life of bacterial rRNA is approximately a few days, the identification of bacteria rRNA on antibiotic PMMA spacers suggests that viable bacteria were present after conclusion of antibiotic therapy. This study provides evidence for the high tolerance of biofilm cells to antibiotics in vivo and the important role of bacterial persisters in PJI.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine