Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is a devastating complication following total knee arthroplasty (TKA), and perioperative antibiotics are commonly administered to try to mitigate the chance of infection. Intraosseous regional administration (IORA) of prophylactic antibiotics during TKA is a method of antibiotic delivery that has been shown to achieve markedly higher tissue concentrations at much lower doses. Other advantages include ease of administration, ability to time the antibiotic delivery with the surgical start time for maximal effectiveness, and less systemic side effects. The concept is similar to a Bier block, except that IORA involves the use of antibiotics instead of local anesthetic to perfuse the limb and is given via intraosseous rather than intravenous access.
After standard patient preparation and draping, the tourniquet is inflated and an intraosseous needle is inserted into the proximal medial face of the tibia, just medial and slightly above the level of the tubercle. A large syringe containing the desired antibiotic (typically 500 mg vancomycin suspended in normal saline solution) is connected to the needle and the solution is administered over 1 to 2 minutes. The intraosseous needle can then be removed and the surgical procedure proceeds as it normally would per surgeon preference and technique.
Systemic administration of intravenous antibiotics, vancomycin powder, and antibiotic-impregnated cement are alternative options that can be utilized during TKA.
IORA has several distinct advantages over other methods of antibiotic delivery, including the ability to (1) deliver antibiotic directly to the surgical bed and avoid systemic delivery, (2) precisely time and quickly administer antibiotics to achieve highest concentrations at the start of and throughout the surgical procedure, and (3) avoid several common and potentially serious side effects, especially those associated with antibiotics such as vancomycin.
This technique for antibiotic delivery achieves markedly higher tissue concentrations compared with systemic administration, without prolonged preoperative infusion times. Intraosseous delivery optimizes timing and reduces the risk of systemic side effects while simultaneously providing equal or enhanced antibiotic prophylaxis in TKA. This delivery mechanism is especially useful in patients who are at high risk for infection and in the revision TKA setting. Further, there is little to no additional risk and the use of this method does not substantially prolong operative time.
- The proximal aspect of the tibia is the optimal injection site because the cortex is thinner in this region, making needle insertion easier. Additionally, the metaphyseal bone allows faster flow rates for the infusion. We have found that insertions made slightly more proximally are easier and have faster flow rates. Of note, although the antibiotic is infused into the tibia, as seen in the attached technique video, intraosseous administration achieves rapid uptake into the vascular tree. Therefore, all tissues distal to the tourniquet, including the femur and patella, will receive this optimal dose as well.
- We prefer the use of a power driver (EZ-IO; Teleflex); however, manual needles (Cook Medical) can also be utilized. Longer needles are available if needed for obese patients.
- Flow rates are variable and the infusion typically takes 1 to 2 minutes to complete. If the flow rate is slow, twisting and withdrawing the needle slightly (2 to 4 mm) may increase the rate. This contrasts with the 1 to 2-hour intravenous infusion time required when vancomycin is administered systemically.
- In our experience, intraosseous injection is still successful in the case of a previous high tibial osteotomy, although the flow rate may be slower.
- In complex revision cases with compromised proximal tibial bone, the medial malleolus is an alternative site for intraosseous administration.
- Choice of antibiotic: as vancomycin is difficult to adequately administer intravenously, it is ideally suited for IORA. We have studied and utilized a 500-mg dose of vancomycin suspended in a solution of 140 mL of normal saline solution (prepared by our pharmacy). Of note, we have not found rapid infusion of intraosseous vancomycin to cause red-man syndrome as it would with rapid systemic infusion. This is because of the lower dose of 500 mg and the use of the tourniquet, which keeps the antibiotic in the local tissues about the knee without allowing systemic exposure. All patients, regardless of weight or the size of their limb, receive the dose of 500 mg of vancomycin.
- As cefazolin does not have the same difficulties with intravenous administration, we continue to use standard intravenous prophylaxis with an appropriate weight-based dose of cefazolin prior to incision.
- Indications for IORA of vancomycin include clinical scenarios in which vancomycin would be administered intravenously. These indications include revision TKA, obesity (body mass index >40 kg/m2), diabetes, beta-lactam allergy, known colonization with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), patients coming from institutions with a high prevalence of MRSA, previous ligamentous surgical procedure or osteotomies, and current or recent smokers. IORA can be utilized even in the primary TKA setting if the patient is considered high-risk as defined by the criteria above. We also use IORA during reimplantation following 2-stage exchange for PJI and in patients undergoing irrigation and debridement for acute PJI when the organism has been identified preoperatively.