We prospectively investigated a consecutive series of ten patients undergoing a cemented primary total hip replacement (THR) for osteoarthritis in order to establish the elution characteristics of Simplex-tobramycin bone cement (Howmedica, Limerick, Ireland). Specimens of blood, urine and drainage fluid were collected for 72 hours postoperatively. Very high concentrations of tobramycin were found in the drainage fluid, with mean levels at one hour of 103 mg/l, which steadily declined to 15.1 mg/l after 48 hours. The mean serum tobramycin levels reached a peak of 0.94 mg/l at three hours and declined rapidly to 0.2 mg/l by 48 hours. The mean urinary tobramycin levels peaked at 57.8 mg/l at 12 hours with a rapid decline to 12.6 mg/l by 24 hours.

There was a direct correlation between the amount of tobramycin bone cement which was implanted and the amount of tobramycin systemically absorbed. Excellent local delivery was achieved with minimal systemic concentrations. Simplex-tobramycin bone cement is an efficient and safe method for the delivery of antibiotics after THR.

  • Received July 8, 2002.
  • Accepted February 11, 2003.