Is Gram staining still useful in prosthetic joint infections?

Marjan Wouthuyzen-Bakker, Noam Shohat, Marine Sebillotte, Cédric Arvieux, Javad Parvizi, Alex Soriano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Staphylococcus aureus is an independent risk factor for DAIR failure in patients with a late acute prosthetic joint infection (PJI). Therefore, identifying the causative microorganism in an acute setting may help to decide if revision surgery should be chosen as a first surgical approach in patients with additional risk factors for DAIR failure. The aim of our study was to determine the sensitivity of Gram staining in late acute S. aureus PJI. Material and methods: We retrospectively evaluated all consecutive patients between 2005-2015 who were diagnosed with late acute PJI due to S. aureus. Late acute PJI was defined as the development of acute symptoms and signs of PJI, at least three months after the index surgery. Symptoms existing for more than three weeks were excluded from the analysis. Gram staining was evaluated solely for synovial fluid. Results: A total of 52 cases were included in the analysis. Gram staining was positive with Gram positive cocci in clusters in 31 cases (59.6%). Patients with a C-reactive protein (CRP) > 150 mg/L at clinical presentation had a significantly higher rate of a positive Gram stain (30/39, 77%) compared to patients with a CRP ≤ 150 mg/L (4/10, 40%) (pCombining double low line0.02). A positive Gram stain was not related to a higher failure rate (60.6% versus 57.9%, p 0.85). Conclusion: Gram staining may be a useful diagnostic tool in late acute PJI to identify S. aureus PJI. Whether a positive Gram stain should lead to revision surgery instead of DAIR should be determined per individual case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-59
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Bone and Joint Infection
Issue number2
StatePublished - 29 Jan 2019


  • Acute
  • Gram staining
  • Hematogenous
  • Prosthetic joint infection
  • Staphylococcus aureus


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