Scoping review: Diagnosis and management of periprosthetic joint infection in elbow arthroplasty

A. C. Watts*, A. D. Duckworth, I. A. Trail, J. Rees, M. Thomas, A. Rangan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Total elbow arthroplasty is an effective treatment for patients with painful elbow arthritis. Infection can be a serious complication. The aim of this scoping review was to document the available evidence on periprosthetic elbow infection. Methods: A search of Medline, Embase and PubMed was performed; two authors screened results independently. Systematic reviews, randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, case–control studies and case series including periprosthetic elbow infection were eligible. Results: A total of 46 studies were included. The median rate of periprosthetic elbow infection reported from recent published studies is 3.3%. The most commonly identified causative organisms are Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis. Risk factors include younger age, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, previous surgery or infection to the elbow, and postoperative wound complications. Debridement, antibiotics and implant retention results in implant survival rates of 50–90%. Two-stage revision results in improved functional outcome scores, but with recurrent infection rates of 12–28%. Conclusions: Total elbow arthroplasty carries a higher risk of infection when compared to other major joint replacements. The current body of literature is limited and is almost exclusively low volume retrospective case series. The best management of periprosthetic elbow infection is difficult to determine, but two-stage revision appears to be the gold standard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-291
Number of pages10
JournalShoulder and Elbow
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • arthroplasty
  • diagnosis
  • elbow
  • infection
  • management
  • replacement


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