Local antibiotic delivery by a bioabsorbable gel is superior to PMMA bead depot in reducing infection in an open fracture model

Jowan G. Penn-Barwell*, Clinton K. Murray, Joseph C. Wenke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Local delivery allows a high concentration of antibiotics to be achieved in the wound while avoiding the side effects and cost of systemic administration. Beads molded from polymethylmethacrylate cement are commonly used for local antibiotic delivery but are not ideal. The purpose of this study was to determine whether a bioabsorbable gel delivering vancomycin and gentamicin is more effective in reducing infection than beads delivering vancomycin and tobramycin. METHODS: This study used a segmental defect rat model contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus and treated with clinically relevant local antibiotic doses, delivered by gel or beads. In the gel group, 1 mL of gel containing gentamicin and vancomycin was spread throughout the wound. In the bead group, four 3-mm beads containing tobramycin and vancomycin were placed in the wound, 2 in the defect and 2 in the adjacent tissue envelope, there was also a control group that received no antibiotic treatment. After 14 days, bone and hardware was harvested for separate microbiological analysis. RESULTS: There was a significantly lower infection rate in groups treated with antibiotics delivered by gel compared with those treated with either antibiotic beads or no antibiotics at all (P < 0.001). Quantitative cultures also demonstrate significantly less bacteria in the wounds treated with the gel than in the control or bead groups (P ≤ 0.004). CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that antibiotic delivery by a gel is superior to beads. The authors propose that antibiotic depot by polymethylmethacrylate antibiotic beads is less effective because this method has to rely on diffusion of the antibiotic from the high concentration close to the beads to all regions of the wound.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-375
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Trauma
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Open fracture
  • antibiotic beads
  • antibiotics
  • bacteria
  • infection
  • local antibiotics
  • wounds and injuries


Dive into the research topics of 'Local antibiotic delivery by a bioabsorbable gel is superior to PMMA bead depot in reducing infection in an open fracture model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this