Background. The use of suppressive antibiotics in treatment of orthopedic hardware infections (OHIs), including spinal hardware infections, prosthetic joint infections, and infections of internal fixation devices, is controversial.
Methods. Over a 4-year period at 2 academic medical centers, patients with OHI who were treated with debridement and retention of hardware components, with single-stage exchange, or without surgery were studied to determine whether use of oral antibiotics for at least 6 months after diagnosis impacts successful treatment of the infection at 1 year after diagnosis.
Results. Of 89 patients in the study, 42 (47.2%) were free of clinical infection 1 year after initial diagnosis. Suppressive antibiotics used for at least 6 months after diagnosis was not associated with being free of clinical infection (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 5.29; 95% confidence interval [CI], .74–37.80), but being on suppressive antibiotics at least 3 months after diagnosis was associated with being free of clinical infection (OR, 3.50; 95% CI, 1.30–9.43). Causative organisms impacted the likelihood of success; patients with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as well as with Gram-negative rods were both less likely to have achieved clinical success at 1 year after surgery (aOR = 0.018, 95% CI = .0017–.19 and aOR = 0.20, 95% CI = .039–.99, respectively).
Conclusions. Oral suppressive antibiotic therapy in treatment of OHI with retention of hardware for 3 months, but not 6 months, postdiagnosis increases the likelihood of treatment success. The organisms implicated in the infection directly impact the likelihood of treatment success.