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The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 85-B, Issue 4 | Pages 588 - 593
1 May 2003
Pickering SAW Bayston R Scammell BE

Infection of orthopaedic implants is a significant problem, with increased antibiotic resistance of adherent ‘biofilm’ bacteria causing difficulties in treatment. We have investigated the in vitro effect of a pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) on the efficacy of antibiotics in the treatment of infection of implants.

Five-day biofilms of Staphylococcus epidermidis were grown on the tips of stainless-steel pegs. They were exposed for 12 hours to varying concentrations of gentamicin or vancomycin in microtitre trays at 37°C and 5% CO2. The test group were exposed to a PEMF. The control tray was not exposed to a PEMF. After exposure to antibiotic the pegs were incubated overnight, before standard plating onto blood agar for colony counting.

Exposure to a PEMF increased the effectiveness of gentamicin against the five-day biofilms of Staphylococcus epidermidis. In three of five experiments there was reduction of at least 50% in the minimum biofilm inhibitory concentration. In a fourth experiment there was a two-log difference in colony count at 160 mg/l of gentamicin. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) confirmed an effect by a PEMF on the efficacy of gentamicin which was significant at p < 0.05. There was no significant effect with vancomycin.

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery British Volume
Vol. 64-B, Issue 4 | Pages 460 - 464
1 Aug 1982
Bayston R Milner R

The release of gentamicin sulphate, sodium fusidate and diethanolamine fusidate from Palacos and CMW cements was studied using elution and serial plate transfer tests. Further tests were made to assay the drug remaining in the cement after antibacterial activity could no longer be detected by the above methods, to detect the sustained slow release of the residual drug, and to ascertain the mechanism of release. The results confirmed that the release of gentamicin sulphate could be detected for longer from Palacos cement than from CMW cement, but the opposite was true for sodium fusidate. Little difference was found in the case of diethanolamine fusidate. Comparison of elution and serial plate transfer tests, and of results of elution in buffers of different pH, demonstrated that the test method employed had a significant effect on the results, and the omission of details of methodology from some publications made comparison and evaluation of results difficult. Varying quantities of residual drug were found in cement from which antibacterial activity could no longer be demonstrated; further tests for sustained, slow release showed that the antibiotic did not remain fixed in the cement but was released at a rate too slow to be detected in the elution and serial plate transfer tests. It is concluded that antibiotics are released from the cement by a process of diffusion, but tests to determine the mechanism of diffusion were unhelpful. The theory of diffusion of drugs through solid matrices, and the clinical implications of the experimental findings, are discussed.