Fungal and mycobacterial cultures should not be routinely obtained for diagnostic work-up of patients with suspected periprosthetic joint infections

Don Bambino Geno Tai, Nancy L Wengenack, Robin Patel, Elie F Berbari, Matthew P Abdel, Aaron J Tande

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


AIMS: Fungal and mycobacterial periprosthetic joint infections (PJI) are rare events. Clinicians are wary of missing these diagnoses, often leading to the routine ordering of fungal and mycobacterial cultures on periprosthetic specimens. Our goal was to examine the utility of these cultures and explore a modern bacterial culture technique using bacterial blood culture bottles (BCBs) as an alternative.

METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of patients diagnosed with hip or knee PJI between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2019, at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. We included patients aged 18 years or older who had fungal, mycobacterial, or both cultures performed together with bacterial cultures. Cases with positive fungal or mycobacterial cultures were reviewed using the electronic medical record to classify the microbiological findings as representing true infection or not.

RESULTS: There were 2,067 episodes of PJI diagnosed within the study period. A total of 3,629 fungal cultures and 2,923 mycobacterial cultures were performed, with at least one of these performed in 56% of episodes (n = 1,157). Test positivity rates of fungal and mycobacterial cultures were 5% (n = 179) and 1.2% (n = 34), respectively. After a comprehensive review, there were 40 true fungal and eight true mycobacterial PJIs. BCB were 90% sensitive in diagnosing true fungal PJI and 100% sensitive in detecting rapidly growing mycobacteria (RGM). Fungal stains were performed in 27 true fungal PJI but were only positive in four episodes (14.8% sensitivity). None of the mycobacterial stains was positive.

CONCLUSION: Routine fungal and mycobacterial stains and cultures should not be performed as they have little clinical utility in the diagnosis of PJI and are associated with significant costs. Candida species and RGM are readily recovered using BCB. More research is needed to predict rare non- Candida fungal and slowly growing mycobacterial PJI that warrant specialized cultures. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2022;104-B(1):53-58.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-58
Number of pages6
JournalBone and Joint Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycobacterium Infections/microbiology
  • Mycoses/microbiology
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections/microbiology
  • Retrospective Studies

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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