The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether the serum level of interleukin 6 (IL-6) could be used to identify the persistence of infection after the first stage of a two-stage revision for periprosthetic joint infection.
Between 2010 and 2011, we prospectively studied 55 patients (23 men, 32 women; mean age 69.5 years; 36 to 86) with a periprosthetic joint infection. Bacteria were identified in two intra-operative tissue samples during re-implantation in 16 patients. These cases were classified as representing persistent infection.
To calculate a precise cut-off value which could be used in everyday clinical practice, a 3 x 2 contingency table was constructed and manually defined.
We found that a serum IL-6 ≥ 13 pg/mL can be regarded as indicating infection: its positive-predictive value is 90.9%. A serum IL-6 ≤ 8 pg/mL can be regarded as indicating an absence of infection: its negative predictive value is 92.1%.
The serum IL-6 level seems to be a reasonable marker for identifying persistent infection after the first stage of a revision joint arthroplasty and before attempting re-implantation.