Is Topical Vancomycin an Option? A Randomized Controlled Trial to Determine the Safety of the Topical Use of Vancomycin Powder in Preventing Postoperative Infections in Total Knee Arthroplasty, as Compared With Standard Postoperative Antibiotics Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: The demand for total knee arthroplasties (TKAs) is expected to rise in the coming decades, increasing the burden of periprosthetic joint infections (PJIs). The use of intrawound vancomycin powder (VP) has proven to be effective in reducing the incidence of PJIs after spinal surgery. That said, its effectiveness in TKA remains unclear. This trial aims to examine the efficacy of intrawound vancomycin powder first versus standard postoperative antibiotics in preventing PJIs after TKA. METHODS: This study was a double-blinded, noninferiority, randomized controlled trial. All participants received standard preoperative intravenous (IV) antibiotics (Cefazolin/Vancomycin) within 60 minutes of skin incision. Patients in the treatment group received 1 gram of VP applied intraoperatively by the orthopedic surgeon (500 mg directly on the prosthesis, 500 mg above the closed joint capsule). These patients did not receive postoperative antibiotics. Patients in the control group received standard postoperative IV antibiotics. The primary outcome was the incidence of acute surgical site infection within 42 days of procedure. RESULTS: There were 80 patients randomized to the treatment group and 85 patients randomized to the control. Groups were matched with respect to baseline characteristics, including average age (66 versus 64), BMI (35.7 versus 33.4), and diabetics (16 versus 13). The trial was halted at 1 year as a significantly greater proportion (P = .03) of patients in the treatment group (n = 3, 3.75%) were diagnosed with PJIs compared to the control (n = 0). CONCLUSION: Our trial demonstrated the intrawound application of VP to be inferior to standard postoperative IV antibiotics in reducing the incidence of PJIs after TKA.


  • Abuzaiter, Wesam
  • Bolton, Caralee A
  • Drakos, Anastasia
  • Drakos, Paul
  • Hallan, Alam
  • Warchuk, David
  • Woolfrey, Karen GH
  • Woolfrey, Michael

publication date

  • August 2023