Safety of Temporary Use of Recycled Autoclaved Femoral Components in Infected Total Knee Arthroplasty: Confirming Sterility Using a Sonication Method

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the usefulness of sonication technique for microbiological diagnosis and the sterility of the recycled autoclaved femoral components from infected total knee arthroplasty (TKA) using a sonication method. 

Nineteen femoral implants explanted from patients with infected TKA were sterilized with a standard autoclave method. Standard culture of the fluid before and after sonication of the sterilized implants was performed to detect pathogenic microorganisms. Additional experiments were performed to evaluate the sterility of the recycled implant by inducing artificial biofilm formation. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was inoculated into 10 implants and sterilization in a standard autoclave was performed, and then the fluid was cultured before and after sonication. 

Two of the 19 sterilized implants were positive for growth of bacteria after sonication, whereas no growth was detected in the cultured fluid from the sterilized implants before sonication. The bacteria were Staphylococcus species in all two cases. In one of 10 implants inoculated with MRSA, the culture was positive for growth of bacteria both before and after sonication. However, Staphylococcus epidermidis was cultured from both occasions and thus this implant was thought to be contaminated. 

We found sonication for identification of pathogens could be helpful, but this finding should be interpreted carefully because of the possibility of contamination. Sterilization of an infected femoral implant with an autoclave method could be a good method for using the temporary articulating antibiotic spacer in two-stage revision arthroplasty.