Prosthetic infections involving total hip or knee implants are bad enough, but infections involving pelvic endoprostheses following tumor resection can be particularly devastating, often necessitating multiple surgical interventions. And, such infections are disconcertingly common, affecting an estimated 11% to 53% of pelvic endoprostheses.
Findings from a retrospective multisite cohort study by Sanders et al. in the May 1, 2019 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery reveal more about the specific microorganisms underlying those infections—and may offer insight into how to prevent them.
The authors analyzed 70 patients who underwent pelvic endoprosthetic reconstruction following a tumor resection. Eighteen patients (26%) developed an infection, and in 14 out of those 18 cases, the infection was determined to be polymicrobial. Cultures from 12 of the 18 patients (67%) were positive for a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family of gram-negative bacteria, which includes Escherichia coli. More generally, microorganisms associated with intestinal flora appeared 32 out of the 42 times that any microorganism was isolated.
At the latest follow-up (median follow-up was 66 months), 9 of the 18 patients still had the original implant, although 2 of those patients had a fistula and another 2 were receiving suppressive antibiotics. Of the remaining 9 patients who had the original implant removed, 3 had a second implant in situ.
The authors emphasize how different these pelvic endoprosthetic infections are from infections related to joint arthroplasty. The close proximity of incisions for periacetabular tumor resection to the gut and other highly colonized areas might contribute to these infections, they speculate. Sanders et al. say the findings of this study may prompt surgeons to employ additional surgical-site antiseptic measures before and during these surgeries and “may justify the use of a broader spectrum of [systemic] antibiotic prophylaxis aimed at gram-negative bacteria.” They also suggest that investigations into “selective gut decontamination” might yield additional information about how to prevent infections in this surgical setting.
Len Chandler of Melbourne, Australia had a cancerous tumor in his left calcaneus and was facing a below-the-knee amputation because of the difficulty entailed in achieving a functional limb salvage procedure. Surgeon Peter Choong teamed with an implant manufacturer and Australia’s national science agency to create an exact titanium replica of the involved bone. The 3D-printed bone had to be both porous, to allow tissue in growth, and ultra-smooth so that it could articulate with hind and midfoot joints, and allow smooth tendon gliding.
After this ground-breaking surgery in July, Chandler is now able to carry more than half his body weight on that foot. The prognosis is for Chandler to be off crutches by the end of 2014. Click here to read the full story. Also, read the related OrthoBuzz article about the first 3D-printed cervical disc implanted in a minor.