One-stage Revision With Catheter Infusion of Intraarticular Antibiotics Successfully Treats Infected THA

Leo A Whiteside, M E Roy
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 2017, 475 (2): 419-429

BACKGROUND: Two-stage revision surgery for infected total hip arthroplasty (THA) is commonly advocated, but substantial morbidity and expense are associated with this technique. In certain cases of infected THA, treatment with one-stage revision surgery and intraarticular infusion of antibiotics may offer a reasonable alternative with the distinct advantage of providing a means of delivering the drug in high concentrations.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: We describe a protocol for intraarticular delivery of antibiotics to the hip through an indwelling catheter combined with one-stage revision surgery and examine (1) the success as judged by eradication of infection at 1 year when treating chronically infected cemented stems; (2) success in treating late-onset acute infections in well-ingrown cementless stems; and (3) what complications were associated with this approach in a small case series.

METHODS: Between January 2002 and July 2013, 30 patients (30 hips) presented to the senior author for treatment of infected THA. Of those, 21 patients (21 hips) with infected cemented THAs underwent débridement and single-stage revision to cementless total hip implants followed by catheter infusion of intraarticular antibiotics. Nine patients (nine hips) with late-onset acute infections in cementless THA had bone-ingrown implants. These patients were all more than 2 years from their original surgery and had acute symptoms of infection for 4 to 9 days. Seven had their original THA elsewhere, and two were the author's patients. All were symptom-free until the onset of their infection, and none had postoperative wound complications, fever, or prolonged pain suggestive of a more chronic process. They were treated with débridement and head and liner exchange, again followed by catheter infusion of intraarticular antibiotics. During this time period, this represented all infected THAs treated by the senior author, and all were treated with this protocol; no patient underwent two-stage exchange during this time, and no patients were lost to followup. At the time of the surgery, two Hickman catheters were placed in each hip to begin intraarticular delivery of antibiotics in the early postoperative period. Antibiotics were infused daily into the hip for 6 weeks with the tubes used for infusion only. Eleven of the single-stage revisions and four of the hips treated with débridement had methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. Patients were considered free of infection if they had no clinical signs of infection and had a normal C-reactive protein and erythrocyte sedimentation rate at 1 year. Complications were ascertained by chart review.

RESULTS: Twenty of 21 (95%) infections in patients who had single-stage revision for chronically infected cemented THA were apparently free from infection and remained so at a mean followup of 63 months (range, 25-157 months). One case grew Candida albicans in the operative cultures and remained free of signs of infection after rerevision followed by infusion of fluconazole. The nine cementless THAs treated with débridement and head/liner exchange all remained free of signs of infection at a mean followup of 74 months (range, 62-121 months). Few complications were associated with the technique. Four patients had elevated serum levels of vancomycin without renal function changes and two patients had transient blood urea nitrogen/creatinine elevations with normal vancomycin levels that resolved with dosage adjustments. No patient had evidence of permanent renal damage. None of the patients in this study developed a chronic fistula or had significant drainage from the catheter site.

CONCLUSIONS: Single-stage revision for chronically infected cemented THA and débridement of bone-ingrown cementless THA with late-onset acute infection followed with indwelling catheter antibiotic infusion can result in infection eradication even when resistant organisms are involved. Larger study groups would better assess this technique and prospective comparisons to more traditional one- and two-stage revision techniques for infected THA will likely require multi-institutional approaches.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level IV, therapeutic study.

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