Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Test for Joint Infection Could Spare Some Patients an Unnecessary Procedure

05.03.2008
A potential diagnostic test that could help surgeons confirm or rule out the presence of infection-causing bacteria in prosthetic joints that require surgical revision has been developed by researchers at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Such a test could spare a subgroup of people who need the surgery a time-consuming and costly treatment for infection, while helping to ensure that people who need the procedure get it. The test is described in the March issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of joint replacement surgeries are performed in this country. And each year, thousands of them must be revised (the prosthetic joint must be removed and replaced) due to severe pain and swelling. These symptoms are often due to infection, says Rocky S. Tuan, Ph.D., chief of NIAMS' Cartilage Biology and Orthopaedics Branch.

The standard treatment for suspected infection is to remove the joint prosthesis and replace it with a spacer that has been impregnated with antibiotics. After about six weeks, patients must undergo another surgery to remove the spacer. Only then can the surgeon implant the new prosthesis.

The problem with this approach is that confirming the presence of infection-causing bacteria is an inexact science. Currently, doctors check for infection by culturing a sample of the joint fluid. A positive culture confirms live bacteria, making spacer surgery a certainty. A negative culture, however, does not necessarily mean there is no infection. In fact, Tuan says that estimates of the false negative rate for joint cultures in revision surgeries range from 27 percent to 50 percent. But because failure to treat an infected joint could lead to severe infection and limb amputation, spacer surgery is sometimes performed for safety's sake even when infection test results are inconclusive.

To get around the false-negative problem, Tuan and his colleagues developed a way to test for joint infections using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which detects the presence of bacterial DNA. However, this approach proved to have pitfalls, too. It picked up all bacteria — even dead or dying bacteria that cannot perpetuate infection — thereby giving false positives.

Tuan says this new problem led them to expand their PCR approach by testing for bacterial messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA). "When bacteria are dying, their mRNA is one of the first things to go," he says. As a result, the researchers hypothesized that a good mRNA test would not only detect bacteria, but would likely tell them if any bacteria they detected were still viable. Unlike DNA, mRNA is not directly quantifiable by known techniques, so the mRNA test that Tuan's group developed employs a process called reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR) to convert the mRNA into DNA for measurement.

Tuan's group tested the validity of their new method by introducing bacteria into infection-free joint fluid to simulate infection. To ensure that the bacteria were indeed present, they used the PCR test, which accurately showed the amount of bacterial DNA. The researchers then treated the joint fluid cultures with potent antibiotics designed to kill off the bacteria. As expected, the PCR-DNA test still showed that the fluid contained plenty of bacteria, but when the group analyzed the cultures with the RT-PCR test for mRNA, they found that the viable bacteria population was declining.

Now Tuan's team is recruiting 50 people who need joint revision for a clinical trial that will involve testing patients' joint fluid for bacteria and then following them for 6 months to a year after surgery. They hope that the results from this study will validate the protocol to identify or rule out infections before a person begins a surgical revision.

Tuan would like to be able to tell patients who need infection treatment, "There is a really bad infection and we know what to do."

"But we also want to tell the person without infection that it's O.K. to put in a revision joint. That saves the spacer, the additional surgery and its associated risk, and 6 weeks of being laid up," Tuan says.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health (NIH), is to support research into the causes, treatment, and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases; the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research; and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about NIAMS, call the information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS Web site at http://www.niams.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

Reference:
Birmingham P et al. Simulated joint infection assessment by rapid detection of live bacteria with real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. J Bone Joint Surg Am 2008;90:602-08.

Trish Reynolds | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nih.gov
http://www.niams.nih.gov

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis
23.01.2017 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>