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Delayed-Onset Mycobacterium tuberculosis Prosthetic Joint Infection after Hip Hemiarthroplasty: A Case Report and Review of the Literature

Diamantis P Kofteridis1*, Dimitra Dimopoulou1, Sofia Maraki2, Antonios Valachis1, Ioannis Galanakis3 and George Samonis1

1Departments of Internal Medicine-Infectious Disease Unit, University Hospital of Heraklion, Greece

2Departments of Clinical Microbiology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Greece

3Departments of Orthopedics, University Hospital of Heraklion, Greece

*Corresponding Author:
Diamantis P Kofteridis
Department of Internal Medicine
Infectious Disease Unit University Hospital of Heraklion
71 110, Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Tel: +30-2810-392359
Fax: +30-2810-392847
E-mail: [email protected]

Received Date: April; 08, 2013; Accepted Date: May 15, 2013; Published Date: May 20, 2013

Citation: Kofteridis DP, Dimopoulou D, Maraki S, Valachis A, Galanakis I, et al. (2013) Delayed-Onset Mycobacterium tuberculosis Prosthetic Joint Infection after Hip Hemiarthroplasty: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. Clin Microbial 2:114. doi:10.4172/2327-5073.1000114

Copyright: © 2013 Kofteridis DP, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Prosthetic joint infection (PJI) due to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) without previous history of tuberculosis is an extremely rare complication. We report the case of an 80-year-old man, with no prior history of tuberculosis. The patient underwent replacement arthroplasty and the infection was successfully treated with combination of oral anti-tuberculous drugs for one year.


One-third of world population are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) [1,2]. After exposure to MTB 30 % of the cases will develop latent infection, with a 5-10% lifetime risk of progression to active tuberculosis (TB) [2,3]. Extrapulmonary TB is observed in about 20% of the total cases. Although pulmonary and extrapulmonary tuberculosis cases have both decreased during the last years, extrapulmonary disease has increased as a proportion of the total. Among extrapulmonary cases approximately 10% represents bone and joint infections, with peripheral arthritis being responsible for 30% of osteoarticular TB [2,4,5]. Usually a single joint is involved, with the hip joint being the most common [5].

Prosthetic joint infection (PJI) due to MTB with no previous history of pulmonary or extra pulmonary TB is an extremely rare complication. Only 30 cases have been reported in the literature [5- 25]. PJI due to MTB is caused by reactivation of a dormant nidus of infection or by haematogenous dissemination of MTB and is usually presented with clinical findings of an infected, painful and malfunctioning prosthesis [16].

Diagnosis is often delayed due to lack of TB history, while optimal treatment remains unclear as literature is based only on few case reports [5-25].

We report the case of a patient with MTB PJI complicating a hip hemiarthroplasty, 13 months after surgery for subtrochanteric fracture, with no previous TB history. Treatment with removal and replacement of the artificial joint and medical with adequate anti TB drugs led to full recovery.

Case report

An 80-year-old man had sustained a left hip fracture. Hip hemiarthroplasty was performed. No features suggesting acute joint infection were noted intra-operatively. Preoperative chest radiograph did not reveal TB suggestive findings neither TB history nor MTB contacts were known.

The post-operative period was uneventful. Thirteen months after surgery, the patient was re-admitted to the hospital with excruciating pain and limitation of movement of the left hip. No fever or swelling around the hip has been noted on admission. Chest radiograph was normal without any sign of previous MTB infection. Blood investigations demonstrated white blood cells (WBC): 8.2 K/μl, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): 90 mm/hr, C-reactive protein (CRP): 8.69 mg/dl, hematocrit (Hct): 33.6 % and hemoglobin (HGB): 11.1 g/dl. The gram stain from the aspirated synovial fluid and tissue were both negative. Computed tomography and bone scan were also negative. The aspirated synovium fluid cultured on Löwenstein-Jensen medium grew MTB 28 days after inoculation.

The patient has been treated initially with removal and replacement of the artificial joint. After synovial cultures were available the patient has been commenced on a combination of four antituberculous agents (rifampicin 600mg o.d., isoniazid 300 mg o.d., ethambutol 1000 mg o.d., pyrazinamide 2 g o.d.), for the first two months and then he continued with two drugs (rifampicin 600 mg o.d., with isoniazid 300 mg o.d.), for a total year. At post operative follow-up the CRP level returned to normal within three months time, while the pain totally disappeared and the patient regained mobility of the hip joint. Two years after the last surgery, no evidence of TB recurrence was observed during his regular follow-up exams.


A rare case of a delayed-onset PJI due to MTB in an 80-year-old patient with no prior history of TB successfully treated with replacement arthroplasty and a combination of anti-TB drugs is described.

Osteoarticular TB is observed in about 10% of the cases of extrapulmonary disease [2,4]. Usually a single joint is involved with the hip being the most common [5]. However, PJI due to MTB in patients without previous TB is an extremely rare complication [5]. There are only 30 cases reported in literature of MTB prosthetic joint infection with no previous history of tuberculosis [5-25]. Fifteen of these cases (50%) refer to total hip replacement (Table 1). It is of note that in a study of 2116 episodes of PJI over a period of 22 years, only 0.3% was due to MTB [5]. Infection of the prosthetic joint may occur not only during surgery, but also during the entire lifetime of the implant. Both early (less than 3 months after surgery) as well as delayed-onset (3 to 24 months after surgery) infections are usually acquired during implantation of the prosthesis, while late infections (more than 24 months) are predominantly acquired by hematogenous route [26]. Trauma or tissue injury around the prosthesis is probably the reason for reactivation of a dormant nidus of inactive infection [16]. The present patient presented the MTB PJI thirteen months after surgery. However, the pathophysiology of the present case remains unclear.

Case Author (Reference), Year Age, years/ sex Joint Time from Arthroplasty to Joint Infection Medical Therapy And Duration (months) Surgery Follow-up Outcome
1 Baldini et al. [2] ND Hip 1,7 years NA Resection Arthroplasty 4 months Recovered
2 Al-Shaikh et al. [3] ND Knee 8 months INH, RIF, PZA (12), EMB (9 ) Arthrodesis 1 year Recovered
3 Berbari et al. [4] ND Hip 30 years INH (19), RIF (1), EMB (19) Resection Arthroplasty 10 years Recovered
4 Berbari et al. [4] ND Hip 23 years INH, EMB (16) Resection Arthroplasty 8 years Recovered
5 Berbari et al. [4] ND Hip 10 years INH, RIF (15) Staged exchange 7 years Recovered
6 Boeri et al. [5]  59/W Hip 24 months INH, RIF (13), EMB, PZA(4) No surgery 6 years Recovered
7 Bryan et al. [6] 72/W Knee     8 years INH, RIF, EMB (24) Arthrodesis 3 years Recovered
8 Fernandez-Valencia et al. [7] ND Hip 6 months INH, RIF (12), EMB (3 m) Resection Arthroplasty 6 years Recovered
9 Kreder et al. [8] 66/W Hip 4 years INH, EMB, PZA (9) Acetabulum Revised 18 months Recovered
10 Levin et al. [9] ND Hip 4 years STM (3.5), INH, RIF (36) Resection Arthroplasty 2.5 years Recovered
11 Lusk et al. [10] ND Knee 15 years INH, EMB, PZA (6) Resection Arthroplasty 6 months Recovered
12 Marmor et al. [11] 66/W Knee 3 months INH, RIF, PZA (6) Revision Arthroplasty 7 years Recovered
13 Marmor et al. [11] 66/M Knee 2 months INH, RIF, PZA (6) Revision Arthroplasty 5 years Recovered
14 Marmor et al. [11] 77/W Knee 4 months INH, EMB, PZA (8) Debridement 18 months Recovered
15 McCullough et al. [12] ND Hip 7.8 years STM(2), INH, RIF(18) Debridement 6 months Recovered
16 Spinner et al. [13] 70/W Knee 4 years INH, EMB, PZA (9) Debridement 2.5 years Recovered
17 Tokumoto et al. [14] ND Hip 38 years INH, RIF (12) Arthrodesis 2 years Recovered
18 Tokumoto et al. [14] ND Knee 1.7 years INH, EMB (18) Debridement 8 years Recovered
19 Ueng et al. [15] ND Hip 1.5 years INH, RIF, EMB (24) Staged Exchange 3 years Recovered
20 Ueng et al. [15] ND Hip 14 years INH, RIF, EMB (12) Resection Arthroplasty 2 years Recovered
21 Wolfgang et al. [16] 61/M Knee 1 year INH, RIF (24) Staged Exchange 12 months Recovered
22 Zeiger et al. [18] 40/W Knee 4 years NA Resection Arthroplasty Not supplied Recovered
23 Shanbhag et al. [19] 59/W Hip 14 months RIF, EMB, PYR, PZA (12)  No surgery 18 months Recovered
24 Lee et al. [20] 79/W Knee 2 months RIF, INH, EMB (12) No surgery 13 months Recovered
25 Carrega et al. [24] 72/W Knee NA RIF, INH, EMB (12) No surgery 12 months Recovered
24 Carrega et al. [24] 79/W Hip 1 month RIF, INH, EMB (5) No surgery 12 months Recovered
24 Carrega et al. [24] 92/W Hip NA RIF, INH, EMB (9) No surgery 13 months Recovered
24 Carrega et al. [24] 80/W Knee 2 months RIF, INH, EMB (12) Debridement 6  months Recovered
24 Mete et al. [20] 32/W Knee NA RIF, INH, EMB, PZA (12) Revision Arthroplasty 12 months Recovered

Table 1: Treatment and outcome of knee and hip prosthetic joint infections infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

The majority of the cases existing in the literature describe patients with late-onset MTB joint infection with painful, malfunctioning prostheses. Hence, as in the present case prosthesis removal had been required for cure [5-9,11,12,15-19,21,24,25]. Osteoarticular TB is difficult to diagnose. Identification of MTB is essential for the diagnosis. Acid-fast stains of the joint fluid are positive in 20-25% of the cases, while cultures are positive in approximately 60 to 80%; histological features are non specific [2,27].

The optimal management of PJI due to MTB remains unclear. Pulmonary and extrapulmonary MTB infections typically require treatment with multiple antimicrobials for 6–9 months to avoid reemergence of the disease [2]. The pathophysiology for the need of such an extended treatment remains unclear as antimicrobials kill MTB during the first 14 days of treatment [2]. Biofilm formation could provide an explanation for persistent infection and/ or resistance. In this context PJI due to MTB may require more prolonged treatment than other sites of pulmonary and extrapulmonary infection [28]. However, data are lacking as literature is based only on few case reports [5-25].

The main goal of treatment is the retention of the prosthesis and this can be possible when the infection is diagnosed early, within 6 weeks of arthroplasty [26]. However, of a total of 30 cases with PJI due to MTB only 3 have been diagnosed within the first 3 months after surgery [14,23]. In the majority of cases, especially in patients with late onset of MTB PJI, surgical removal of all infected tissues and implants, in combination with a long-term anti-TB therapy, was often required [5,16,17,23-25].

Identifying and subsequently treating with isoniazid individuals with latent tuberculosis infection reduces the risk of future disease by 75-90%, although existing screening tests are lacking sensitivity. In patients with history of previous TB, cured or latent, some investigators have suggested the administration of anti TB treatment with isoniazid for 2 to 3 weeks before and 3 weeks after the operation [29].

Since the number of patients aged > 65 is on the rise in industrialized countries and the number of patients requiring orthopaedic implants and implant-related infections will continue to grow, new preventive strategies should be developed to include TB screening and treatment. In this context we do believe that clinicians should consider screening their patients at risk for latent TB, pre-perioperatively and treat individuals with latent disease accordingly.

In conclusion, the present case indicates that TB should always be included in the differential diagnosis of PJI, especially in cases with negative cultures, as early diagnosis and appropriate treatment could decrease morbidity and health care costs. Furthermore, screening and treatment strategies should be developed as the population at risk for implant infections will continue to grow.


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