Surgical site infection (SSI) presents a ubiquitous concern to surgical specialties, especially in the presence of prosthetic material. Antibiotic-impregnated beads present a novel and evolving means to combat this condition. This review aims to analyze the quality of evidence and methods of antibiotic bead use, particularly for application within vascular surgery.
A systematic scoping review was conducted within Embase, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Registry of Randomized Controlled Trials. Articles were evaluated by 2 independent reviewers. Level of evidence was evaluated using the Oxford Center for Evidence-Based Medicine Criteria and the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool for Randomized Controlled Trials.
The search yielded 6951 papers, with 275 included for final analysis. Publications increased in frequency from 1978 to the present. The most common formulation was polymethyl methacrylate; however publications on biodegradable formulations, including calcium sulfate beads, have been published with increasing frequency. Most publications had positive conclusions (94.2%); however, the data was mainly subjective and may be prone to publication bias. Only 11 randomized controlled trials were identified and all but one was evaluated to be at a high risk of bias. The most common indication was for osteomyelitis (52%), orthopedic prosthetic infections (20%), and trauma (9%). Within vascular surgery, beads have been used primarily for the treatment of graft infection, with freedom from recurrence rates being reported from 41% to 87.5%.
Antibiotic-impregnated beads provide a means to deliver high doses of antibiotic directly to a surgical site, without the risks of parenteral therapy. There has yet to be significant high-level quality data published on their use. There is a large body of evidence that suggests antibiotic beads may be used in SSIs in high-risk patients, prosthetic infections, and other complex surgical infections. Important potential areas of application in vascular surgery include graft infection, prevention of wound infection in high-risk patients, and diabetic foot infection.