The significance of infection related to orthopedic devices and issues of antibiotic resistance
Over the last 15 years, with the advent of modern standards in the control of sterility within the operating room environment and adequate protocols of peri-operative antibiotic prophylaxis, the incidence of infections associated to orthopedic implants has become very low. Nevertheless, the event of infection still represents one of the most serious and devastating complications which may involve prosthetic devices. It leads to complex revision procedures and, often, to the failure of the implant and the need for its complete removal. In orthopedics, for the enormous number of surgical procedures involving invasive implant materials, even if nowadays rare, infections have a huge impact in terms of morbidity, mortality, and medical costs. The difficult battle to prevent and fight bacterial infections associated to prosthetic materials must be played on different grounds. A winning strategy requires a clear view of the pathogenesis and the epidemiology of implant-related infections, with a special attention on the alarming phenomenon of antibiotic resistance. In this regard staphylococci are the prevalent and most important causative pathogens involved in orthopedic implant-related infections, and, thus, the main enemy to defeat. In this paper, we offer an overview of the complexity of this battleground and of the current and new, in our opinion most promising, strategies in the field of biomaterials to reduce the risks and counteract the establishment of implant infections.