Corticosteroids as an Adjunct to Antibiotics and Surgical Drainage for the Treatment of Pyogenic Flexor Tenosynovitis

Draeger, Reid W.; Singh, Bikramjit; Bynum, Donald K.; Dabners, Laurence E.
November 2010
Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, American Volume;11/17/2010, Vol. 92-A Issue 16, p2653
Academic Journal
Background: Many similarities exist between pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis and other closed-space infections such as septic arthritis. Previous studies have demonstrated that corticosteroids in conjunction with antibiotics considerably improve treatment outcomes in patients with septic arthritis. Using a chicken model, we investigated whether or not corticosteroids in combination with antibiotics and/or surgical drainage could minimize the loss of range of motion typically associated with pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis. Methods: We inoculated the flexor tendon sheath of the right long toe of broiler chickens with Staphylococcus aureus (American Type Culture Collection 29523 NA) (6 x 109 colony-forming units/mL) and twenty-four hours later administered one of six treatments to groups of fourteen or fifteen chickens. Treatment combinations included systemic or intrasynovial antibiotics, surgical drainage with catheter irrigation or no surgical drainage, and local corticosteroid injections or no corticosteroid injections. Measurements of active digital flexion at the proximal and middle interphalangeal joints were performed before inoculation and treatment and at seven, fourteen, and twenty-eight days after treatment. Flexion measurements were compared between groups as well as with similar measurements in the contralateral, uninfected, control long toe. Results: At twenty-eight days, two of three groups treated with locally administered corticosteroids and the group treated with intrasynovial antibiotics alone (without surgery) regained significantly more active flexion in comparison with chickens treated with systemic antibiotics and surgical drainage (the current standard of care). Pooled data revealed that the corticosteroid-treated groups regained significantly more active flexion at all post-treatment time points. Conclusions: Our data support the hypothesis that adding locally administered corticosteroids to the treatment regimen for pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis in a chicken model can significantly decrease loss of motion resulting from the infection. Furthermore, locally administered antibiotics may be effective for the treatment of pyogenic flexor tenosynovitis.


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