Early experience with linezolid for infections in orthopaedics.
In infections following orthopaedic surgery, isolated staphylococci are reported to be methicillin resistant (MRSA) in up to 50% of cases. Linezolid, the first in a new class of antibiotics, has excellent efficacy against gram positive organisms that are resistant to other therapies and is 100% orally bioavailable. We report early results of its use for the treatment of resistant infections in orthopaedic practice. Infections were characterised according to the UK Nosocomial Infections National Surveillance Service classification of surgical infections as superficial, deep or organ/space. Osteomyelitis, joint sepsis and deep infection involving orthopaedic implants were included into the final category. Outcome was recorded as clinical, microbiological and blood parameter cure or fail. Over the 12-month study period, 54 patients received linezolid therapy, 41% of these had significant co-morbidity that might affect their ability to fight infection. Sixty-seven percent of infections were in association with implanted metal work. The majority of patients were treated with vancomycin for a short period before linezolid was used as oral 'switch' therapy for longer-term administration, allowing early discharge in all cases. MRSA was isolated in 87% of the patients treated. The mean length of linezolid therapy was 39 days (2-151). Clinical success was achieved in 90% of patients overall. Though there were no life-threatening complications, adverse event rates were significantly higher than those recorded in the literature, with 19% of patients needing to cease therapy. Linezolid offers an alternative to traditional treatments for resistant infections and can facilitate early discharge. Patients need to be monitored closely, particularly where long-term therapy is planned.
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