This study investigated the effect of the choice of antibiotic regime on outcome of patients treated for fracture-related infection (FRI) at 3 centres, in the UK and the Netherlands between 2015 and 2019.
All patients with FRI, confirmed by the FRI Consensus Definition1 and treated surgically, were included. Data were collected on patient characteristics, microbial cultures, antibiograms, empiric and definitive systemic antibiotic regimes and local antibiotic use. All patients were followed up for at least one year. The primary outcome was eradication of infection. The chosen antibiotic regimes were compared to the recent guidelines from the FRI Consensus Group2, to assess the correlation with outcome.
433 FRIs were treated in patients with mean age 49.7 years (range 14–84). Patients were followed up for a mean of 26 months (range 12–72). A microbiological diagnosis was obtained in 353 patients (18.5% culture negative rate), with 46% monomicrobial and 35.5% polymicrobial. Staph aureus was present in 51.3% of monomicrobial and 55.2% of polymicrobial infections. Negative cultures were much less likely in FRI within 10 weeks of injury (p=0.00001).
Treatment failure with recurrent infection occurred in 13.6% of patients. Failure was more likely in culture positive cases (Polymicrobial; p=0.016, monomicrobial 0.039).
Definitive antibiotic regimes were fully compliant with the FRI Guideline in 107 cases (24.7%). In 294 cases (68%) antibiotic regimes outside the guidelines were used. Non-compliance was often due to differences in recommended dosing or overtreatment with extra antimicrobials. 32 cases (7.4%) could not be assessed against the FRI Guidelines as the organisms or regimes were not represented in the guide.
Failure rate with FRI Guideline compliant regimes was 12.1% and with non-compliant, 13.2% (p=0.87). Failure in unclassifiable cases was 21.9%. The use of local antibiotics reduced the recurrence rate from 18.3% without local antibiotics to 10.3% with local antibiotics (p=0.022).
This study demonstrated that there can be considerable variability in the choice of antimicrobial regimes in FRI. Some deviations from the FRI Guideline did not result in poorer outcomes. These smaller differences in antimicrobial choice may not be major determinants of outcome.