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Author(s): Elie Ghanem*, Camilo Restrepo, Carrie Houssock, Javad Parvizi; Rothman Institute,Philadelphia, PA

Title: Determination of Leukocytosis of in Traumatic Joint Aspiration

Purpose: Periprosthetic infection (PPI) remains the most dreaded and difficult complication of total joint arthropalsty. We implemented a corrective formula frequently used in traumatic spinal taps to adjust for serum leukocytes introduced during tap.

Methods: We conducted a review of all TKA aspirations of infected and non-infected patients performed at our institute during 2000 to 2005. - The following inclusion criteria were used: 1- A red cell count (RBC) was performed on the aspirate 2- A blood white cell count with differential was done within one week of aspiration. Patients with inflammatory arthropathy or those who underwent reimplantation after PPI were excluded. Strict criteria for diagnosis of PPI were used. We previously determined at our institute the cut-off values for fluid leukocyte count (>1760 cells/Ql) and neutrophil percentage (>73%). The adjusted fluid leukocyte counts were calculated using the following formula: Wadjusted = WBCobserved ¡V [(WBCblood * RBCfluid / RBCblood)] predicted. A similar formula was implemented to calculate the adjusted absolute neutrophil counts.

Results: Our cohort included 73 infected and 32 aseptic total knee arthroplasties that fulfilled the above criteria. After correcting for introduced red blood cells, cell counts of 3 infected patients dropped below the cut-off value, while the remaining 70 maintained a high cell count. However, the 3 infected patients had initial cell counts below our reported cut-offs. Of the 32 non-infected patients, 10 patients had false positive cell counts due to the presence of extremely high numbers of blood RBC. 5 of the 10 false positive aspirates successfully corrected to levels below the thresholds used to diagnose infection. The aspirates that corrected had a greater number of introduced RBCs, an initial higher cell count, and 20 times more fluid WBC deducted from the initial cell count.

Discussion: The corrective formula can safely adjust for RBC found in a traumatic tap and detect false positive results among non-infected TKA without compromising the diagnosis of infection. Adjusted aspirates of non-infected TKA can be expected to decrease below zero due to one of the following: adherence of the introduced systemic WBC to the joint synovium, greater rate of lysis of the introduced systemic WBC compared to the systemic RBC, laboratory errors in performing fluid cell counts.

Musculoskeletal Infecton Society
Musculoskeletal Infecton Society