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Successful Identification of Pathogens by Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-Based Electron Spray Ionization Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (ESI-TOF-MS) in Culture-Negative Periprosthetic Joint Infection
Christina L. Jacovides, BS1; Rachael Kreft, BS, RN2; Bahar Adeli, BA1; Bryan Hozack, BA1; Garth D. Ehrlich, PhD2; Javad Parvizi, MD, FRCS1
1 Rothman Institute of Orthopedics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, 925 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. E-mail address for J. Parvizi: research@rothmaninstitute.com
2 Center for Genomic Sciences, Allegheny Singer Research Institute, 320 East North Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
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Investigation performed at the Rothman Institute of Orthopedics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, and the Allegheny Singer Research Institute, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Disclosure: None of the authors received payments or services, either directly or indirectly (i.e., via his or her institution), from a third party in support of any aspect of this work. One or more of the authors, or his or her institution, has had a financial relationship, in the thirty-six months prior to submission of this work, with an entity in the biomedical arena that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. No author has had any other relationships, or has engaged in any other activities, that could be perceived to influence or have the potential to influence what is written in this work. The complete Disclosures of Potential Conflicts of Interest submitted by authors are always provided with the online version of the article.

Copyright © 2012 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc.
J Bone Joint Surg Am, 2012 Dec 19;94(24):2247-2254. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.L.00210
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The diagnosis of periprosthetic joint infection poses many challenges, one of which is the difficulty of isolating the infecting organism. Recently, a sophisticated modality (the Ibis Biosciences T5000 biosensor system) has been introduced that uses pan-domain primers in a series of polymerase chain reactions (PCRs) to identify and speciate essentially all bacteria and fungi as well as to identify key antibiotic resistance genes. We investigated the role of the Ibis in identifying infecting organisms in cases of known and suspected periprosthetic joint infection.


Synovial fluid specimens were collected prospectively from eighty-two patients undergoing eighty-seven arthroplasty procedures (sixty-five knee revisions, fifteen hip revisions, and seven primary knee arthroplasties) and were sent for both conventional culture and Ibis analysis. The surgeon’s clinical determination of the cause for revision arthroplasty was failure due to infection in twenty-three cases and noninfectious failure in fifty-seven cases.


In the twenty-three cases that were considered on clinical grounds to involve a periprosthetic joint infection, the Ibis detected the same pathogen isolated by conventional culture in seventeen of eighteen cases and also detected one or more organisms in four of the five culture-negative cases. In addition, the Ibis detected organisms in fifty (88%) of the fifty-seven cases in which revision arthroplasty was performed for a presumed noninfectious failure.


The Ibis technology was not only effective at detecting organisms in cases of suspected periprosthetic joint infection in which cultures were negative, but it also suggested that many of the revision arthroplasty cases that have previously been considered to be purely aseptic may have a component of unrecognized, subclinical infection.

Level of Evidence: 

Diagnostic Level III. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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    These activities have been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint sponsorship of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
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