Four versus six weeks of antibiotic therapy for osteoarticular infections after implant removal: a randomized trial. What’s the verdict?

Important work from our friends and colleagues from Turkey and Washington (Prof. Ben Lipsky).

Background

The optimal duration of antibiotic therapy for treating orthopaedic implant infections after surgical drainage and complete implant removal is unknown.Methods

This was a single-centre, unblinded, prospective trial randomizing (1:1) eligible patients to either 4 or 6 weeks of systemic, pathogen-targeted antibiotic therapy. Clinical trial registration number: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT0362209).Results

We analysed 123 eligible patients (62 in the 4 week antibiotic arm and 61 in the 6 week arm) in the ITT analysis. The patients’ median age was 64 years, 75 (61%) were men and 38 (31%) were immunocompromised. The most common types of infection treated included: two-stage exchange procedure for prosthetic joint infection (n = 38); orthopaedic plate infection (44) and infected nail implants (11). The median duration of post-explant intravenous antibiotic therapy was 4 days. Overall, 120 episodes (98%) were cured microbiologically and 116 (94%) clinically after a median follow-up period of 2.2 years. During follow-up, four patients had a clinical recurrence with a pathogen other than the initial causative agent. We noted recurrence of clinical infection in four patients in the 4 week arm and three patients in the 6 week arm (4/62 versus 3/61; χ2 test; P = 0.74); in all cases, this occurred at around 2 months following the end of antibiotic treatment.Conclusions

We found no statistically significant difference in the rates of clinical or microbiological remission between patients randomized to only 4 compared with 6 weeks of systemic antibiotic therapy after removal of an infected osteoarticular implant.

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