In vitro inhibition of coagulase-negative staphylococci by vancomycin/aminoglycoside-loaded cement spacers

J C Streuli, G U Exner, C L Reize, C Merkofer, C P Scott, R Zbinden
Infection 2006, 34 (2): 81-6

BACKGROUND: Successful treatment of allograft infections by the temporary implantation of an antibiotic-loaded polymethylmethacrylate cement spacer depends on the diffusion of antibiotics out of the cement and inhibition of bacterial growth in the surrounding tissue. We investigated with an in vitro model how long antibiotics are released by the cement and if gentamicin-resistant coagulase-negative staphylococci (CNS) are inhibited by vancomycin mixed with the gentamicin-loaded cement.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Four formulations of antibiotic-loaded cement disks, i.e. gentamicin, tobramycin, vancomycin and tobramycin combined with vancomycin, respectively, were used to test the inhibition of eight isolates of Staphylococcus epidermidis and two reference strains of Staphylococcus aureus by an agar diffusion test on Mueller-Hinton (MH) agar similar to the routine laboratory disk diffusion method. Moreover, cement spacer cylinders loaded with gentamicin alone or combined with vancomycin were submerged in MH agar for weeks and the capacity to inhibit five different isolates of S. epidermidis was measured.

RESULTS: The size of the inhibition zones around the antibiotic-loaded cement disks correlated with the minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) of the antibiotics against the tested strains. All five strains of S. epidermidis were inhibited by vancomycin-loaded cement spacers for at least 30 days. However, two gentamicin-resistant S. epidermidis strains with MICs of 4 mg/l and 16 mg/l could not be inhibited longer than 3 days by the gentamicin-loaded cement spacer.

CONCLUSION: The in vitro data suggest that antibiotic-loaded cement spacers inhibit susceptible bacteria for 4-6 weeks. The addition of vancomycin to commercial aminoglycoside-loaded cements might be helpful in allograft infections in tumor patients to inhibit a broad range of bacteria including gentamicin-resistant CNS very commonly found in such infections.

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