Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is a devastating complication of total joint arthroplasty. While research has focused on developing better tests for disease diagnosis, treatment options have stayed relatively constant over the years with high failure rates ranging from 30%–50% and are due in part to the protective biofilm produced by some bacterial species. Current treatment options are compromised by the presence of biofilm, emphasizing the need for novel treatment strategies to be developed. Our group has developed a novel treatment (PhotothermAA) which has demonstrated in vitro its ability to target bacterial biofilm. The purpose of this study was to test this PhotothermAA technology in vivo in a rabbit model of PJI for its efficacy in eradicating biofilm.
Rabbits were fitted with a titanium implant into the tibial plateau and inoculated with 5×106 CFU Xen36 (luminescent Staphylococcus aureus). At two weeks, rabbits underwent irrigation and debridement and treatment with PhotothermAA gel for two hours and subsequently laser heated using an 808 nm laser for 10 minutes. Gel was washed out and implant was removed for quantitative biofilm coverage analysis via scanning electron microscopy (SEM, n=3 for control and n=2 for PhotothermAA treated). Periprosthetic tissue was collected before and after treatment for toxicity studies via hemotoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining and scored for necrosis by three blinded reviewers (n=5 per group). Student's t-test was used for statistical analysis.
Implants isolated after PhotothermAA gel treatment had less biofilm coverage on the surface of the implant compared to non-treated control via SEM analysis (36.9% vs. 55.2%, p<0.14). PhotothermAA gel treatment and subsequent laser treatment was not harmful to surrounding tissue as no increase in necrotic tissue was observed.
PhotothermAA gel and laser treatment safely decreases biofilm coverage on infected knee implants in a rabbit PJI model.