Treatment With Dithiothreitol Improves Bacterial Recovery From Tissue Samples in Osteoarticular and Joint Infections

Elena De Vecchi, Monica Bortolin, Valentina Signori, Carlo L. Romanò, Lorenzo Drago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Prosthetic implants, periprosthetic and osteoarticular tissues are specimens of choice for diagnosis of bone and joint infections. Homogenization is considered the best procedure for treatment of tissues samples, but, it is not always performed in all laboratories. Dithiothreitol (DTT) has been proposed as an alternative treatment to sonication for microbiological diagnosis of prosthetic joint infections. In this study, the applicability of DTT treatment for processing of periprosthetic and osteoarticular tissues for diagnosis of bone and joint infections was evaluated and compared with normal saline solution treatment. Methods: Periprosthetic tissue samples were collected from 70 consecutive patients (25 infected and 45 not infected). For each patient, samples from the same site were randomly allocated to DTT or saline treatment. Treated samples were centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 10 minutes. Aliquots from the concentrated samples were plated on agar plates and inoculated in broths. Sensitivity and specificity were calculated for each treatment. Results: Microbial growth was observed in samples from 14 and 11 infected patients after DTT and saline treatments, respectively. Concordance between the 2 methods was observed in the 85.7% of cases. Sensitivity was 88.0% for DTT and 72.0% for saline. Specificity was 97.8% and 91.1% for DTT and saline, respectively. Treatment with DTT showed higher sensitivity and specificity with respect to the method routinely used in our laboratory. Conclusion: DTT treatment may be considered a practicable strategy for microbiological analysis of tissues for diagnosis of bone and joint infections.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Arthroplasty
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Feb 4 2016



  • Bone and joint infection
  • Dithiothreitol
  • Laboratory diagnosis
  • Periprosthetic tissue
  • Sample treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

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