Surgeons continually struggle to reduce orthopaedic infections, but no current treatment offers minimum side effects with maximum effectiveness. Antibiotics mixed in plaster of paris have been successful in treating large bony defects in patients with chronic osteomyelitis, and have the advantage of being well tolerated and absorbed by the body. Antibiotics impregnated in polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) have offered local antibiotic delivery with some success. However, the effect of the antibiotic on the bone cement, the inconsistent elution of the antibiotic, and the need to remove the PMMA implant drives the need for a better system of antibiotic delivery. Polymers or copolymers of antibiotic-impregnated polylactic acid, polyglycolic acid or polyparadioxanone may provide an absorbable system for localized antibiotic delivery. Similar biodegradable systems used to treat small bone fractures have been successful with minimal side effects. In vitro studies have shown promising results of antibiotic elution from bioabsorbable microspheres and beads. Animal in vivo tests have shown that antibiotic impregnated polymers can successfully treat induced osteomyelitis in rabbits and dogs. These studies have provided consistent reproducible results, and now it is time to plan human trials to assess the efficacy of antibiotic microspheres implanted in infected bone and to plan in vivo and in vitro animal testing to investigate the feasibility of antibiotic-polymer-coated components.

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