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General Orthopaedics


The Canadian Orthopaedic Association (COA) and Canadian Orthopaedic Research Society (CORS) Annual General Meeting, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada, 8–11 June 2022. Part 1 of 2.


Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) occurs in 0.2-2% of primary hip and knee arthroplasty and is a leading cause of revision surgery, impaired function, and increased morbidity and mortality. Topical, intrawound vancomycin administration allows for high local drug concentrations at the surgical site and has demonstrated good results in prevention of surgical site infection after spinal surgery. It is a promising treatment to prevent infection following hip and knee arthroplasty. Prior studies have been limited by small sample sizes and the low incidence of PJI. This systematic review and meta-analysis was performed to determine the effectiveness of topical vancomycin for the primary prevention of PJI in hip and knee arthroplasty.

A search of Embase, MEDLINE, and PubMed databases as of June 2020 was performed according to PRISMA guidelines. Studies comparing topical vancomycin to standard perioperative intravenous antibiotics in primary THA and TKA with a minimum of three months follow-up were identified. The results from applicable studies were meta-analysed to determine the impact of topical vancomycin on PJI rates as well as wound-related and overall complications. Results were expressed as odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals

Nine comparative observational studies were eligible for inclusion. 3371 patients treated with 0.5-2g of topical vancomycin were compared to 2884 patients treated with standard care. Only one of nine studies found a significantly lower rate of PJI after primary THA or TKA (OR 0.09-1.97, p=0.04 for one study, p>0.05 for eight of nine studies), though meta-analysis showed a significant benefit, with vancomycin lowering PJI rates from 1.6% in controls to 0.7% in the experimental group (OR 0.47, p=0.02, Figure 1). Individually, only one of five studies showed a significant benefit to topical vancomycin in THA, while none of seven studies investigating PJI after TKA showed a benefit to topical vancomycin. In meta-analysis of our subgroups, there was a significant reduction in PJI with vancomycin in THA (OR 0.34, p=0.04), but there was no significant difference in PJI after TKA (OR 0.60, p = 0.13). In six studies which reported complication rates other than PJI, there were no significant differences in overall complication rates with vancomycin administration for any study individually (OR 0.48-0.94, p>0.05 for all studies), but meta-analysis found a significant difference in complications, with a 6.7% overall complication rate in controls compared to 4.8% after topical vancomycin, largely driven by a lower PJI incidence (OR 0.76, p=0.04).

Topical vancomycin is protective against PJI after hip and knee arthroplasty. No increase in wound-related or overall complication rates was found with topical vancomycin. This meta-analysis is the largest to date and includes multiple recent comparative studies while excluding other confounding interventions (such as povidone-iodine irrigation). However, included studies were predominantly retrospective and no randomized-controlled trials have been published. The limited evidence summarized here indicates topical vancomycin may be a promising modality to decrease PJI, but there is insufficient evidence to conclusively show a decrease in PJI or to demonstrate safety. A prospective, randomized-controlled trial is ongoing to better answer this question.

For any figures or tables, please contact the authors directly.