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General Orthopaedics


The European Bone and Joint Infection Society (EBJIS) Meeting, Graz, Austria, 8–10 September 2022.



Studies have shown that retention of antibiotic cement spacer in selected elderly patients with low functional demand represents a viable option for periprosthetic joint infections (PJI) treatment1,2.

The aim of this study is to compare the efficacy in infection treating among modular taylored preformed and hand-made antibiotic spacers. Our hypothesis is that modular tailored preformed spacer provides a better rate of infection resolution, better radiological and functional outcomes compared to hand-made spacers.

Materials and methods

We identified 48 patients treated with antibiotic cement spacer for shoulder chronic infection between 2015 and 2021 in our institution; (13 hand-made spacers and 35 modular tailored preformed spacers). We collected data about comorbidities, associated microorganism, infection resolution, clinical and radiographic evaluation.


The mean age at surgery was 63.2 years, (45.8% female − 54.2% male), mean BMI 28.3. The mean time of infection diagnosis after first surgery was 30 months; (31.2% infection after ORIF in proximal humeral fractures, 68.8% PJI after shoulder arthroplasty). The main pathogens were Propionibacterium Acnes (37.5%), Staphylococcus Epidermidis (29.2%), Staphylococcus Aureus (16.7%), negative intraoperative coltures (14.6%), Enterococcus (4.17%), Pseudomonas Aeruginosa (4.17%).

The mean time of antibiotic spacer retention was 18 months: 23 patients (47.9%) underwent second stage surgery for prosthesis implantation; 2 removed the spacer because of spacer dislocation, 2 died during follow up; while 21 patients still hold the antibiotic spacer (17 patients in treatment with prefabricated spacers and 4 with self-constructed spacer).

The mean value for clinical assessment for patients with modular tailored preformed spacer were: Constant Score 34 – QuickDASH 40 – SST 33 – ASES Score 66 – VAS 2. Patients treated with hand-made spacer registered the following scores: Constant Score 20 – QuickDASH 51 – SST 25 – ASES Score 38 – VAS 6. Two patients presented fracture of the spacer (one hand-made spacer and one tailored preformed).


According to our data patients treated with modular tailored preformed antibiotic spacer show better functional outcomes. Patients are more likely to retain the spacer as a permanent implant, avoiding the risks of a second stage surgery in those low-demanding patients, achieving a reasonable satisfying quality of shoulder motion without pain.