Trowels and Tribulations: Review of Antimicrobial-Impregnated Bone Cements in Prosthetic Joint Surgery

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Antimicrobial-impregnated bone cement (AIBC) is a staple of contemporary orthopedic surgery and has been used to either treat or prevent prosthetic joint infection. Applied intraoperatively during primary arthroplasty or prosthetic joint exchange, this drug-delivery vehicle has become a popular means of maximizing drug concentrations within a joint space while minimizing systemic exposure. Antimicrobial characteristics conducive to cement loading include availability of a crystalline powder formulation, molecular characteristics, minimal impact on cement integrity, and other variables promoting drug elution. Antimicrobials most commonly incorporated into cements are vancomycin and aminoglycosides, usually in combination due to synergistic antibacterial activity and enhanced cement elution. Other classes include the β-lactams, lipopeptides, oxazolidinones, and antifungals. With the exception of several commercially available AIBCs, most products are compounded extemporaneously without a formal safety or efficacy assessment. Few randomized controlled trials have been conducted to assess the benefit or optimal use of these cement preparations, and variable methodology renders cross-study comparison challenging. Given the lack of standardization and multidisciplinary oversight often seen with practical AIBC use, additional data are needed. This review presents information intended to guide AIBC preparation, selection, dosing, and safe use. In addition, opportunities for best practice development, antimicrobial stewardship, and future research are discussed.

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