Background: Early diagnosis of postoperative orthopaedic infections is important in order to rapidly initiate adequate antimicrobial therapy. There are currently no reliable diagnostic markers to differentiate infectious from noninfectious causes of postoperative fever. We investigated the value of the serum procalcitonin level in febrile patients after orthopaedic surgery.
Methods: We prospectively evaluated 103 consecutive patients with new onset of fever within ten days after orthopaedic surgery. Fever episodes were classified by two independent investigators who were blinded to procalcitonin results as infectious or noninfectious origin. White blood-cell count, C-reactive protein level, and procalcitonin level were assessed on days 0, 1, and 3 of the postoperative fever.
Results: Infection was diagnosed in forty-five (44%) of 103 patients and involved the respiratory tract (eighteen patients), urinary tract (eighteen), joints (four), surgical site (two), bloodstream (two), and soft tissues (one). Unlike C-reactive protein levels and white blood-cell counts, procalcitonin values were significantly higher in patients with infection compared with patients without infection on the day of fever onset (p = 0.04), day 1 (p = 0.07), and day 3 (p = 0.003). Receiver-operating characteristics demonstrated that procalcitonin had the highest diagnostic accuracy, with a value of 0.62, 0.62, and 0.71 on days 0, 1, and 3, respectively. In a multivariate logistic regression analysis, procalcitonin was a significant predictor for postoperative infection on days 0, 1, and 3 of fever with an odds ratio of 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 4.4), 2.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 5.2), and 3.3 (95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 9.0), respectively.
Conclusions: Serum procalcitonin is a helpful diagnostic marker supporting clinical and microbiological findings for more reliable differentiation of infectious from noninfectious causes of fever after orthopaedic surgery.
Level of Evidence: Diagnostic Level II. See Instructions to Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
1 Investigation performed at the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Traumatology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Disclosure: In support of their research for or preparation of this work, one or more of the authors received, in any one year, outside funding or grants in excess of $10,000 from the Swiss National Science Foundation (3200B0-112547/1), Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, and Gebert Rüf Stiftung. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity.
- Copyright © 2010 by The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Incorporated
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