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British Hip Society (BHS) meeting, held online, 9–11 June 2021.


Treatment of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) can include local delivery of antibiotics. A frequently used medium is absorbable calcium sulphate beads. The aims of this study were to:

  • identify how often organisms in infected THRs are sensitive to the added antibiotics

  • establish the incidence of persistent wound discharge and hypercalcaemia

All patients who received an antibiotic loaded calcium sulphate carrier (Stimulan, Biocomposites, Keele, UK) for either confirmed infection, presumed infection or for prophylaxis between July 2015 and July 2020 were included. Stimulan use was at the discretion of the surgeon, and between 10 and 40cc was used. In the absence of a known organism we routinely used 1g vancomycin and 240mg gentamicin per 10 cc of calcium sulphate. Post-operative sensitivities for all organisms cultured were compared to the antibiotics delivered locally. Persistent wound drainage was defined as discharge beyond the third postoperative day. Patients had serum calcium measured if they developed symptoms consistent with hypercalcaemia (Ca >2.6 mmol/L) or the clinical team felt they were at high risk.

189 patients (mean age 66.9 years, mean BMI 28.9, 85 male, 104 female) were included. 11 patients had a native joint septic arthritis, 42 presented with acute PJI and 136 presented with chronic PJI. 133 patients grew an organism, of which 126 were sensitive to the added antibiotics. Of the seven patients with resistant growth five had vancomycin-resistent Enterococcus, one Pseudomonas and one multi-organism growth including coagulase negative Staphylococcus. 40 patients experienced persistent wound discharge, with eight requiring re-operation. All other cases settled with dressing management. 12 patients developed hypercalcaemia (3/64 10cc, 7/117 20cc, 0/2 30cc and 2/6 40cc). The peak calcium reading ranged between the second and twelfth post-operative day.

The addition of vancomycin and gentamicin to absorbable calcium sulphate covers the majority of organisms found in culture positive infection in our cohort. It also appears safe, with an acceptable incidence of hypercalcaemia or wound discharge. Further work is required to identify patients at greatest risk of culturing resistant organisms or delayed wound healing.