Does Topical Vancomycin Powder Use in Fracture Surgery Change Bacteriology and Antibiotic Susceptibilities? An Analysis of the VANCO Trial


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE:To determine whether intrawound vancomycin changes the bacteriology of surgical site infection pathogens and investigate the emergence of antibiotic-resistant pathogens.METHODS:Design:Secondary analysis of phase III, prospective, randomized clinical trial.Setting:Thirty-six US trauma centers.Patient Selection Criteria:Patients who became infected after fixation of tibial plateau or pilon fracture.Outcome Measures and Comparisons:Pathogen types and bacterial susceptibilities as determined from routine clinical culture in the operating room.RESULTS:Seventy-four patients were studied who were 67.5% male with a mean age of 48.6 years. A lower proportion of gram-positive cocci was observed in the vancomycin powder compared with the standard-of-care group (3.7% vs. 8.0%, P = 0.01). Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection incidence was comparable in both the vancomycin powder and the standard-of-care groups, but rates of methicillin-susceptible S. aureus infections were lower in the treatment group (1.4% vs. 4.8%, P = 0.01). The incidence of coagulase-negative Staphylococci and gram-negative rod infections were similar in both groups. There was no significant difference in susceptibilities between groups in rates of vancomycin-resistant enterococcus.CONCLUSIONS:Topical vancomycin powder decreases the likelihood of gram-positive infections consistent with the biologic activity of vancomycin. Fewer methicillin-susceptible S. aureus and coagulase-negative Staphylococci infections were observed in the group treated with vancomycin powder. An effect of vancomycin powder on methicillin-resistant S. aureus infection risk was not detected given the low incidence in both the intrawound vancomycin and the standard-of-care groups. There was no emergence of gram-negative rod infections or increased resistance patterns observed. Use of topical vancomycin powder does not seem to produce infections in these patients with greater antibiotic resistance than would have occurred without its use.LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:Therapeutic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-189
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Trauma
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • antibacterial resistance
  • antibacterial susceptibility
  • gram-positive bacteria
  • surgical site infection
  • tibial plafond
  • tibial plateau
  • vancomycin powder


Dive into the research topics of 'Does Topical Vancomycin Powder Use in Fracture Surgery Change Bacteriology and Antibiotic Susceptibilities? An Analysis of the VANCO Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this