Routine cultures for seemingly aseptic revision shoulder arthroplasty: are they necessary?
Propionibacterium acnes has recently gained attention as the leading cause of periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs) after shoulder arthroplasty. Unlike PJIs in the lower extremity, PJIs after shoulder arthroplasty usually have an indolent course and are notoriously difficult to diagnose. Most of the time, the diagnosis is made after positive intraoperative cultures are taken at the time of revision surgery. Adding even more complexity to the diagnosis is the high rate of P acnes–positive cultures taken at the time of primary shoulder surgery. In many cases the preoperative workup yields no suspicion for infection; however, intraoperative cultures are taken to completely eliminate the potential of an ongoing indolent infection. Concerns over how to interpret positive P acnes culture results and the high rate of culture positivity in primary shoulder arthroplasty, as well as the potentially high rate of contamination, have led surgeons to wonder about the utility of obtaining intraoperative cultures at the time of revision shoulder arthroplasty. We present evidence for and against the practice of obtaining routine intraoperative cultures at the time of seemingly aseptic revision shoulder arthroplasty.
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