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Antimicrobial properties of antibiotic-loaded implants

a comparative study of antimicrobial properties of antibiotic-loaded cement, tantalum, 3D-printed porous titanium, and titanium alloy

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The aim of this study was to compare the ability of tantalum, 3D porous titanium, antibiotic-loaded bone cement, and smooth titanium alloy to inhibit staphylococci in an in vitro environment, based on the evaluation of the zone of inhibition (ZOI). The hypothesis was that there would be no significant difference in the inhibition of methicillin-sensitive or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA/MRSA) between the two groups.


A total of 30 beads made of three different materials (tantalum/3D porous titanium and smooth titanium alloy) were bathed for one hour in a solution of 1 g vancomycin in 20 ml of sterile water for injection (bath concentration: 50 mg/mL). Ten 1 cm3 cylinders of antibiotic-loaded cement were also created by mixing standard surgical cement with 1 g of vancomycin in standardized sterile moulds. The cylinders were then placed on agar plates inoculated with MSSA and MRSA. The ZOIs were measured each day and the cylinders were transferred onto a new inoculated plate.


For MSSA and MRSA, no inhibitory effect was found in the control group, and antibiotic-loaded smooth titanium alloy beads showed a short inhibitory effect until day 2. For MSSA, both tantalum and 3D porous titanium beads showed significantly larger mean ZOIs than cement beads (all p < 0.01) each day until day 7 for tantalum and until day 3 for 3D porous titanium. After six days, antibiotic-loaded cement had significantly larger mean ZOIs than the 3D porous titanium (p = 0.027), but no significant difference was found with tantalum (p = 0.082). For MRSA, both tantalum and 3D porous titanium beads had significantly larger mean ZOIs than antibiotic-loaded cement each day until day 6 for tantalum (all p < 0.01) and until day 3 for 3D porous titanium (all p < 0.04). Antibiotic-loaded cement had significantly larger mean ZOIs than tantalum and 3D porous titanium from day 7 to 9 (all p < 0.042).


These results show that porous metal implants can deliver local antibiotics over slightly varying time frames based on in vitro analysis.

Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2020;102-B(6 Supple A):158–162.

Correspondence should be sent to Matthieu Ollivier. E-mail:

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