Aims It is essential to exclude a periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) prior to revision surgery. It is recommended to routinely aspirate the joint before surgery. However, this may not be necessary in a subgroup of patients. The aim of our study was to investigate if specific clinical and implant characteristics could be identified to rule out a PJI prior to revision surgery. Methods We retrospectively evaluated clinical and implant characteristics of patients who underwent a hip or knee revision surgery between October 2015 and October 2018. Patients were diagnosed with a PJI according to the MSIS diagnostic criteria. Results A total of 156 patients were analyzed, including 107 implants that were revised because of prosthetic loosening and 49 because of mechanical failure (i.e. instability, malalignment or malpositioning). No PJI was diagnosed in the group with mechanical failure. In the prosthetic loosening group, 20 of 107 were diagnosed with a PJI (19%). Although there was a significantly lower chance of having a PJI with an implant age of > 5 years combined with a CRP < 5 mg/L, an infection was still present in 3 out of 39 cases (8%). Conclusion Implants with solely mechanical failure without signs of loosening and low inflammatory parameters probably do not require a synovial fluid aspiration. These results need to be confirmed in a larger cohort of patients. In case of prosthetic loosening, all joints need to be aspirated before surgery as no specific characteristic could be identified to rule out an infection.