Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Periprosthetic Joint Infection Is the Main Cause of Failure for Modern Knee Arthroplasty: An Analysis of 11,134 Knees

Chuan Kong Koh MBChB, Irene Zeng PhD, Saiprassad Ravi MBChB, Mark Zhu MBChB, Kelly G. Vince MD, Simon W. Young FRACS



Although large series from national joint registries may accurately reflect indications for revision TKAs, they may lack the granularity to detect the true incidence and relative importance of such indications, especially periprosthetic joint infections (PJI).


Using a combination of individual chart review supplemented with New Zealand Joint Registry data, we asked: (1) What is the cumulative incidence of revision TKA? (2) What are the common indications for revising a contemporary primary TKA? (3) Do revision TKA indications differ at various followup times after primary TKA?


We identified 11,134 primary TKAs performed between 2000 and 2015 in three tertiary referral hospitals. The New Zealand Joint Registry and individual patient chart review were used to identify 357 patients undergoing subsequent revision surgery or any reoperation for PJI. All clinical records, radiographs, and laboratory results were reviewed to identify the primary revision reason. The cumulative incidence of each revision reason was calculated using a competing risk estimator.


The cumulative incidence for revision TKA at 15 years followup was 6.1% (95% CI, 5.1%–7.1%). The two most-common revision reasons at 15 years followup were PJI followed by aseptic loosening. The risk of revision or reoperation for PJI was 2.0% (95% CI, 1.7%–2.3%) and aseptic loosening was 1.2% (95% CI, 0.7%–1.6%). Approximately half of the revision TKAs secondary to PJI occurred within 2 years of the index TKA (95% CI, 0.8%–1.2%), whereas half of the revision TKAs secondary to aseptic loosening occurred 8 years after the index TKA (95% CI, 0.4%–0.7%).


In this large cohort of patients with comprehensive followup of revision procedures, PJI was the dominant reason for failure during the first 15 years after primary TKA. Aseptic loosening became more important with longer followup. Efforts to improve outcome after primary TKA should focus on these areas, particularly prevention of PJI.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study.

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