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Clin Microbiol Infect. 2019 Jan;25(1):76-81. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2018.03.040. Epub 2018 Apr 10.

Time-dependent differences in management and microbiology of orthopaedic internal fixation-associated infections: an observational prospective study with 229 patients.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.
Orthopaedic and Traumatological Department, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland.
Division of Clinical Microbiology, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland; Applied Microbiology Research, Department Biomedicine, University of Basel, Switzerland.
Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital Basel, Switzerland. Electronic address:



Little information has been published on orthopaedic internal fixation-associated infections. We aimed to analyse time-dependent microbiology, treatment, and outcome.


Over a 10-year period, all consecutive patients with internal fixation-associated infections at the University Hospital of Basel, were prospectively followed and clinical, microbiological and outcome data were acquired. Infections were classified as early (0-2 weeks after implantation), delayed (3-10 weeks), and late (>10 weeks).


Two hundred and twenty-nine patients were included, with a median follow-up of 773 days (IQR 334-1400). Staphylococcus aureus was the most prevalent pathogen (in 96/229 patients, 41.9%). Enterobacteriaceae were frequent in early infections (13/49, 26.5%), whereas coagulase-negative staphylococci (36/92, 39.1%), anaerobes (15/92, 16.3%) and streptococci (10/92, 10.9%) increased in late revisions. Failure was observed in 27/229 (11.7%). Implants were retained in 42/49 (85.7%) in early, in 51/88 (57.9%) in delayed, and in 9/92 (9.8%) in late revisions (p < 0.01). Early revisions failed in 6/49 (12.2%), delayed in 9/88 (10.2%), and late in 11/92 (13.0%) (p 0.81). Debridement and retention failed in 6/42 (14.3%) for early, in 6/51 (11.8%) for delayed, and in 3/9 (33.3%) for late revisions (p 0.21). Biofilm-active antibiotic therapy tailored to resistance correlated with improved outcome for late revisions failure (6/72, 7.7% versus 6/12, 50.0%; p < 0.01) but not for early revisions failure (5/38, 13.2% versus 1/11, 9.1%; p 1.0).


Treatment of internal fixation-associated infections showed a high success rate of 87-90% over all time periods. Implant retention was highly successful in early and delayed infections but only limited in late infections.


Antibiotic therapy; Biofilm; Fracture-related infection; Implant-associated infection; Orthopaedic fixation device; Osteomyelitis; Surgical management


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