Use of topical vancomycin powder in total joint arthroplasty: Why the current literature is inconsistent?

Fabio Mancino, Piers J. Yates, Benjamin Clark, Christopher W. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) is a rare but terrible complication in hip and knee arthroplasty, and the use of topical vancomycin powder (VP) has been investigated as a tool to potentially reduce its incidence. However, there remains no consensus on its efficacy. Therefore, the aim of this review is to provide an overview on the application of topical vancomycin in orthopaedic surgery focusing on the recent evidence and results in total joint arthroplasty. Several systematic reviews and meta-analyses on topical VP in hip and knee arthroplasty have been recently published reporting sometimes conflicting results. Apart from all being limited by the quality of the included studies (mostly level III and IV), confounding variables are often included potentially leading to biased conclusions. If taken into consideration the exclusive use of VP in isolation, the available data, although very limited, suggest that it does not reduce the infection rate in routine primary hip and knee arthroplasty. Therefore, we still cannot advise for a routinary application. A properly powered randomized-controlled trial would be necessary to clarify the role of VP in hip and knee arthroplasty. Based on the analysis of the current evidence, the use of topical VP appears to be safe when used locally in terms of systemic adverse reactions, hence, if proven to be effective, it could bring great benefits due to its low cost and accessibility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-597
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Journal of Orthopedics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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