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We report microbiological results from a cohort of recurrent bone and joint infection to define the contributions of microbial persistence or replacement. We also investigated for any association between local antibiotic treatment and emerging antimicrobial resistance. Microbiological cultures and antibiotic treatments were reviewed for 125 individuals with recurrent infection (prosthetic joint infection, fracture-related infection, and osteomyelitis) at two UK centres between 2007 and 2021. At re-operation, 48/125 (38.4%) individuals had an organism from the same bacterial species as at their initial operation for infection. In 49/125 (39.2%), only new species were isolated in culture. In 28/125 (22.4%), re-operative cultures were negative. The most commonly persistent species were Staphylococcus aureus (46.3%), coagulase-negative Staphylococci (50.0%), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (50.0%). Gentamicin non-susceptible organisms were common, identified at index procedure in 51/125 (40.8%) and at re-operation in 40/125 (32%). Gentamicin non-susceptibility at re-operation was not associated with previous local aminoglycoside treatment (21/71 (29.8%) vs. 19/54 (35.2%); p = 0.6). Emergence of new aminoglycoside resistance at recurrence was uncommon and did not differ significantly between those with and without local aminoglycoside treatment (3/71 (4.2%) vs. 4/54 (7.4%); p = 0.7). Culture-based diagnostics identified microbial persistence and replacement at similar rates in patients who re-presented with infection. Treatment for orthopaedic infection with local antibiotics was not associated with the emergence of specific antimicrobial resistance.

Original publication




Journal article


Antibiotics (Basel, Switzerland)

Publication Date





Bone Infection Unit, Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford University Hospitals, Oxford OX3 7LD, UK.