Greater Knee Soft Tissue Thickness Predisposes Patients to Subsequent Periprosthetic Joint Infection After Total Knee Arthroplasty

Hamed Vahedi, Derek T. Ward, Yong Seuk Lee, Noam Shohat, Antonia F. Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Although obesity is a risk factor for periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) after total knee arthroplasty (TKA), the role of soft tissue thickness (STT) at the surgical site has not been well studied. This study examined if increased STT in the medial and anterior aspects of the knee are independent risk factors for PJI. Methods: A retrospective study was conducted on 206 patients who underwent 2-stage exchange arthroplasty for PJI from 2000 to 2015. They were matched 1:3 to a control group of primary, noninfected TKA patients with minimum 2 years infection-free survival by age, gender, age-adjusted Charlson Comorbidity Index, date of surgery, and body mass index (BMI). Two blinded orthopedic surgeons measured the medial STT from the medial aspect of the knee at the level of the joint line on an anteroposterior radiograph, and anterior STT 8 cm above the joint line on a lateral radiograph from the skin to the quadriceps tendon. Results: Increased STT was significantly associated with a higher risk for PJI. The mean anterior STT was 29.74 ± 13.76 mm in the PJI group and 24.88 ± 9.76 mm in the control group. The mean medial STT was 42.42 ± 14.66 mm for PJI and 37.27 ± 12.51 mm for control. Both STT measurements were significantly higher in PJI cases with BMI <30 kg/m2 vs control patients with BMI <30 kg/m2. Conclusion: Anterior and medial knee STT was an independent risk factor for PJI after primary TKA and represents a simple radiographic method to assess postoperative infection risk. Excess adipose tissue around the surgical site can predispose patients to PJI after TKA regardless of BMI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1924-1927
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2020


  • obesity
  • periprosthetic joint infection
  • risk factor
  • soft tissue thickness
  • total knee arthroplasty


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