Study Design.This is a retrospective study comparing the diagnosis of spinal implant infection (SII) by peri-implant tissue culture to vortexing-sonication of retrieved spinal implants.Objective.We hypothesized that vortexing-sonication would be more sensitive than peri-implant tissue culture.Summary of Background Data.We previously showed implant vortexing-sonication followed by culture to be more sensitive than standard peri-implant tissue culture for diagnosing of SII. In this follow-up study, we analyzed the largest sample size available in the literature to compare these two culture methods and evaluated thresholds for positivity for sonicate fluid for SII diagnosis.Methods.We compared peri-implant tissue culture to the vortexing-sonication technique which samples bacterial biofilm on the surface of retrieved spinal implants. We evaluated different thresholds for sonicate fluid positivity and assessed the sensitivity and specificity of the two culture methods for the diagnosis of SII.Results.A total of 152 patients were studied. With more than 100 colony forming units (CFU)/10 mL as a threshold for sonicate fluid culture positivity, there were 46 patients with SII. The sensitivities of peri-implant tissue and sonicate fluid culture were 65.2% and 79.6%; the specificities were 88.7% and 93.4%, respectively. With more than 50 CFU/10 mL as a threshold, there were 50 patients with SII. The sensitivities of peri-implant tissue and sonicate fluid culture were 68.0% and 76.0%; the specificities were 92.2% for both methods. Finally, with more than or equal to 20 CFU/10 mL as a threshold, there were 52 patients with SII. The sensitivities of peri-implant tissue and sonicate fluid culture were 69.2% and 82.7%; the specificities were 94.0% and 92.0%, respectively.Conclusion.Implant sonication followed by culture is a sensitive and specific method for the diagnosis of SII. Lower thresholds for defining sonicate fluid culture positivity allow for increased sensitivity with a minimal decrease in specificity, enhancing the clinical utility of implant sonication.Level of Evidence: 4.
- implant sonification
- spinal implant infection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
- Clinical Neurology