DETROIT Total joint replacement surgeries can help relieve joint pain common in people with conditions like osteoarthritis. But sometimes, the debris from prosthetic joints leads to aseptic loosening, or disintegration of surrounding bones. In 2009, a Wayne State University researcher determined that the anti-inflammatory antibiotic erythromycin can prevent and treat such disintegration. There was one caveat, however: there are side effects associated with long-term usage of erythromycin.
But Weiping Ren, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical engineering in WSU's College of Engineering, has found a solution. Erythromycin can be administered directly at the site of bone breakdown, rather than orally, so the whole body is not affected. The details of Ren's study are published in the August 2011 issue of Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research.
"Although oral erythromycin reportedly inhibits inflammation in patients with aseptic loosening, long-term systematic (oral) erythromycin treatment is not recommended," said Ren.
Used primarily for its antimicrobial properties, erythromycin is used to treat conditions like respiratory tract infections and whooping cough, both caused by harmful bacteria. In addition to fighting bacteria, erythromycin reduces inflammation, making it a successful treatment for aseptic loosening.
"But long-term systemic use of erythromycin raises concerns about various side effects, including bacterial resistance, liver damage and gastrointestinal discomfort," said Ren. "We hypothesized that it may be advantageous to restrict erythromycin delivery to the inflammatory tissue around the implant to avoid these side effects."
To test his idea, Ren implanted metal pins coated with erythromycin in the inflamed tissue surrounding the prosthetic joint. He measured bone growth and implant stability, both indicators of how well the prosthesis integrates with the bone, and analyzed micros
|Contact: Julie O'Connor|
Wayne State University - Office of the Vice President for Research