Surgical treatment algorithm for infected shoulder arthroplasty: A retrospective analysis of 17 cases

Published online: Dec 27 2013

Stijn GHIJSELINGS, José Stuyck, Philippe DEBEER

From Leuven University Hospital Pellenberg, Pellenberg, Belgium


There is no consensus regarding treatment of periprosthetic shoulder infections. We retrospectively reviewed 17 patients diagnosed with a periprosthetic shoulder infection. Patient demographics, preoperative diagnostics, therapeutic management and functional outcome were evaluated. The Constant-Murley score (CMS), Simple Shoulder Test (SST), Visual Analogue Score (VAS) and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder and Hand score (DASH) were used to assess clinical outcome. Pre-and intraoperative culture results and laboratory data, including C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), were analyzed. Three patients were treated by two-stage revision arthroplasty, 5 by resection arthroplasty with implantation of a cement spacer, 8 by resection arthroplasty without spacer and one patient underwent polyethylene exchange and serial debridement. The mean follow-up was 4.7 years (range : 1-9.3). The CMS was 27.8 for the resection arthroplasty group, 22.7 for the two-stage revision group and 20.6 for the resection arthroplasty with spacer group. No patients received chronic antibiotic suppression. Mean CRP value was 3.7mg/L (range : 0.2 -11.1). Infection was monobacterial in 8 patients and polymicrobial in 9. The most common organisms were Coagulase negative staphylococcus (CNS) (13/17) and Propionibacterium spp. (7/17). Complications included two humeral fractures. At a mean follow-up of 4.7 years, all but one patient were considered free of infection. Worst functional results were seen with the implantation of a definitive cement spacer. Two-stage revision arthroplasty remains the gold standard in chronic infections, but is associated with a high complication rate. One-stage revision to a reverse shoulder arthroplasty (RSA) is an attractive alternative in selected cases. A surgical treatment algorithm for infected shoulder arthroplasty is proposed.