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2022 Dec 07

Semin Nucl Med

Molecular Imaging of Periprosthetic Joint Infections.


Palestro CJ
Semin Nucl Med. 2022 Dec 07.
PMID: 36496268.


Infection is an infrequent complication of lower extremity prosthetic joint surgery. Approximately one third develop within 3 months (early), another third within 1 year (delayed), and the remainder more than 1 year (late) after surgery. The diagnosis of periprosthetic joint infection is not always straightforward. Pain, the most common symptom, is present in 90%-100% of patients. The presence of fever is more variable, ranging from less than 5% to more than 40% of patients with infection. Erythema and joint swelling are often present in acute infections, but are less common in chronic infections. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 levels are useful "rule out" tests, while peripheral blood leukocyte count and serum tumor necrosis factor α are not helpful. The diagnosis of periprosthetic joint infection often requires a combination of blood, synovial fluid, and tissue sample tests, as well as imaging. Plain radiographs lack sensitivity and specificity. Molecular imaging is useful for evaluating painful joint replacements. Bone scintigraphy is most useful as a screening test. If it is negative then infection and aseptic loosening are unlikely. Combined labeled leukocyte/bone marrow imaging is a very specific test for diagnosing lower extremity joint arthroplasty infection; sensitivity is more variable. Despite more than two decades of investigation, there still is no consensus on the value of F-FDG for diagnosing periprosthetic joint infection. Differing test probabilities, an inability to discriminate between infection and inflammation secondary to physiologic reactions, and lack of standardized interpretative criteria are obstacles to incorporating F-FDG into the routine diagnostic imaging workup of periprosthetic joint infection. Preliminary results for gallium-68 citrate, fluorine-18, and technetium-99m labeled antimicrobial fragments are encouraging but no large scale trials with these agents have been conducted. Limited data suggest that labeled leukocyte/bone marrow SPECT/CT and F-FDG-PET/CT are specific but not sensitive for diagnosing periprosthetic infection of shoulder arthroplasties. There are minimal data on molecular imaging for monitoring treatment response in periprosthetic infections.