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Open Access Original research

Microhardness of bi-antibiotic-eluting bone cement scaffolds

Mrinal Musib, Jeremy Jones, Karunesh Chakote, Westley Hayes and Subrata Saha*

Author Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY 11203, USA

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Progress in Biomaterials 2012, 1:3  doi:10.1186/2194-0517-1-3

Published: 8 October 2012


Bi-antibiotic-impregnated bone cements (BIBCs) are widely used in orthopaedics as a prophylactic agent (depot) to address post-surgical infections. Although hardness is widely considered a viable index to measure the integrity of the cement structure, there are few specific studies involving changes in hardness characteristics of BIBCs post elution of high doses of two widely used antibiotics: tobramycin and gentamicin. Increased doses of antibiotics and increased duration of elution may also decrease the hardness of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) bone cement, thus increasing the chances of shattering, scratching, and deformation.

In this project, we have investigated the changes in surface hardness of five different antibiotic-loaded specimens: 0.5 g tobramycin and 0.5 g gentamicin together, 1 g tobramycin, 1 g gentamicin, 5 g tobramycin and 5 g gentamicin together, and 10 g tobramycin (each added to 40 g of PMMA), post elution for various time periods (1, 3, and 21 days). The effect of hydration on the hardness of bone cement was studied to replicate in vivo conditions. The micro-indentation tester (Buehler m5103) was utilized to determine if the increased antibiotic loads would compromise the integrity of the bone cement matrix.

The results demonstrated that the amount of drug initially incorporated determined the hardness of the cement post elution. As compared to the control (no antibiotic), specimens containing 1 and 10 g of antibiotic exhibited over 50% and 73% decrease in hardness, respectively. The different treatment durations (post 1 day) as well as the hydration conditions had insignificant effect on the hardness of the cement.

Hardness; PMMA; Bi-antibiotic-impregnated bone cement; Elution of drugs; Mechanical properties