Twenty-seven pedal soft tissue and bone infections in 26 patients were treated with surgical necrectomy of infected tissues and implantation of antibiotic-loaded polymethyl methacrylate bone cement beads on chains. The definitive diagnosis of the infected tissues was obtained by culture and histologic examination in all of the cases. A wide variety of foot infections was successfully treated in this manner. The success rate without recurrence of osteomyelitis or soft tissue infection was 95% in this study at an average of 16 months after surgery.
The authors presented an overview of the development of antibiotic-loaded bone cement beads and their indications for usage, method of application, advantages, disadvantages, and causes of failure. This method of treatment for bone and soft tissue infections of the foot is not a panacea and should be used only in selected cases. The vascular status and the physiologic ability of the patient to heal a peripheral wound or infection are the basis for the success of this method of therapy. European literature makes little mention of adjunctive systemic antibiotic therapy with local antibiotic-loaded bone cement bead use. It is the authors' opinion that clinical judgment should be used to determine the necessity for such therapy.