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 January 27, 2009

New Bone Cement May Prevent Amputations

Old technologies, bone cement and a well known antibiotic, may effectively fight an emerging infection in soldiers with compound bone fractures, according to a study published online today in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research. Not common in the United States and not potentially fatal, A. baumannii OM had been largely ignored until recently by physicians and the pharmaceutical industry, which focuses on life-threatening infections that affect millions, not hundreds. Then military outbreaks of the infection started among American soldiers returning from Iraq in 2003, with the number of A. baumannii OM infections seen in field hospitals, and in stateside facilities receiving injured soldiers, growing.

If you apply the findings from two small studies to the entire U.S. military, which is a leap, perhaps 2,000 soldiers come into field hospitals with compound fractures each year that become infected with A. baumannii, said Edward Schwarz, Ph.D., professor of Orthopaedics within the Center for Musculoskeletal Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.About a third of them go on to get a staph infection after they reach the hospital, with about a third of those, perhaps 200 soldiers, suffering infectious complications that could cost them a limb. Studies already underway in our lab seek to clarify how the initial infections could gradually be replaced by catastrophic MRSA, and to prove that we can save limbs by putting an established antibiotic into bone cement for the first time.