Background: Biologic agents have contributed significantly to the management of patients
with in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A significant proportion of patients with RA still require
arthroplasty procedures however. It is unclear whether these agents increase the risk of post operative
infection after lower limb arthroplasty.
Method: A literature search was performed for articles published over the last 10 years in the English
language examining the association between anti-tumour necrosis factor inhibitors and the incidence of
post operative infection in patients with RA undergoing hip and knee arthroplasty procedures.
Results: One large meta-analysis has been published suggesting a 2-fold increase in infection rates
following orthopaedic surgery in patients receiving biological agents. When subgroup analysis of
arthroplasty cases alone was performed the finding failed to reach significance. However, several
further studies have demonstrated both an increased risk for surgical site infection with the use of
biological agents and several conflicting articles argue the opposite.
Conclusion: There is no current consensus on this topic. The safety of continuation of perioperative
anti-TNF-α therapy in patients undergoing lower limb arthroplasty procedures is unclear.
There is also little robust guidance from specialist rheumatologic societies. There is need for large
scale multicentre randomised controlled trials to address this issue.