Antibiotic-loaded biomaterials are currently part of standard medical procedures for both local treatment and prevention of implant infections. The achievement of local delivery of significant quantities of active drugs directly at the site of infection, bypassing or reducing the risks of systemic effects, represents a strong point in favor of this approach. When the aim is to resolve an existing infection, controlled local release of antibiotics can be properly targeted based on the characteristics of the bacterial isolate obtained from the infection site. Under these circumstances the choice of the antibiotic is rational and this local administration route offers new unprecedented possibilities for an efficacious in situ treatment, avoiding the adverse effects of conventional systemic chemotherapies. Although the idea of self sterilizing implants is appealing, controversial is the use of antibiotic-loaded biomaterials in uninfected tissues to prevent implant infections. Systems designed for prolonged release of prophylactic inhibitory or subinhibitory amounts of antibiotics, in absence of strict harmonized guidelines, raise concerns for their still weakly proved efficacy but, even more, for their possible contribution to enhancing biofilm formation and selecting resistant mutants. This consideration holds especially true if the antibiotic-loaded represents the first-line treatment against multiresistant strains.
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