Antibiotic gel can prevent infection in bone implants

A scanning electron microscope image shows the outer surface of a porous PMMA space maintainer that has been cut to fit the dimensions of a jawbone defect.--Courtesy of Rice University

Scientists from Rice University have developed facial reconstruction implants as well as a way to incorporate time-released antibiotics to prevent infection.

The lab has created plastic space maintainers to hold bone open while the tissue around it heals. And the porous polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) implants can now be filled with an antibiotic gel that leaches into that tissue, protecting the implant for weeks at a time. The work was published in the journal Biomaterials Science.

The implants can be particularly helpful for soldiers in the field, who are prone to infection after an injury.

"Infection is an important problem that needs to be considered with medical devices because bacteria can prevent the body from being able to heal," lead author Antonios Mikos said in a statement. "If the infection gets too severe, it can even cause tissues that were previously healthy to die."

- here's the release
- read the journal abstract