Infect Chemother.  2019 Sep;51(3):284-294. 10.3947/ic.2019.51.3.284.

Antibiotic Treatment of Vertebral Osteomyelitis caused by Methicillin-Susceptible Staphylococcus aureus: A Focus on the Use of Oral β-lactams

  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Kangwon National University School of Medicine, Chuncheon, Korea.
  • 2Division of Infectious Diseases, Inje University Busan Paik Hospital, Busan, Korea.
  • 3Division of Infectious Diseases, Chung-Ang University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Division of Infectious Diseases, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Bucheon, Korea.
  • 5Division of Infectious Diseases, Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, Goyang, Korea.
  • 6Division of Infectious Diseases, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea.
  • 7Division of Infectious Diseases, Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center, Daegu, Korea.
  • 8Division of Infectious Diseases, Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital, Goyang, Korea.
  • 9Division of Infectious Diseases, Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, Seoul, Korea.


Vertebral osteomyelitis (VO) is a rare but serious condition, and a potentially significant cause of morbidity. Methicillin-susceptible Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA) is the most common microorganism in native VO. Long-term administration of parenteral and oral antibiotics with good bioavailability and bone penetration is required for therapy. Use of oral β-lactams against staphylococcal bone and joint infections in adults is not generally recommended, but some experts recommend oral switching with β-lactams. This study aimed to describe the current status of antibiotic therapy and treatment outcomes of oral switching with β-lactams in patients with MSSA VO, and to assess risk factors for treatment failure.
This retrospective study included adult patients with MSSA VO treated at nine university hospitals in Korea between 2005 and 2014. Treatment failure was defined as infection-related death, microbiological relapse, neurologic deficits, or unplanned surgical procedures. Clinical characteristics and antibiotic therapy in the treatment success and treatment failure groups were compared. Risk factors for treatment failure were identified using the Cox proportional hazards model.
A total of 100 patients with MSSA VO were included. All patients were treated, initially or during antibiotic therapy, with one or more parenteral antibiotics. Sixty-nine patients received one or more oral antibiotics. Antibiotic regimens were diverse and durations of parenteral and oral therapy differed, depending on the patient and the hospital. Forty-two patients were treated with parenteral and/or oral β-lactams for a total duration of more than 2 weeks. Compared with patients receiving parenteral β-lactams only, no significant difference in success rates was observed in patients who received oral β-lactams for a relatively long period. Sixteen patients had treatment failure. Old age (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 5.600, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.402 - 22.372, P = 0.015) and failure to improve C-reactive protein levels at follow-up (adjusted HR 3.388, 95% CI 1.168 - 9.829, P = 0.025) were independent risk factors for treatment failure.
In the study hospitals, diverse combinations of antibiotics and differing durations of parenteral and oral therapy were used. Based on the findings of this study, we think that switching to oral β-lactams may be safe in certain adult patients with MSSA VO. Since limited data are available on the efficacy of oral antibiotics for treatment of staphylococcal VO in adults, further evaluation of the role of oral switch therapy with β-lactams is needed.


Staphylococcus aureus; Vertebral osteomyelitis; Treatment outcome; Beta-Lactams; Oral administration

MeSH Terms

Administration, Oral
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Biological Availability
C-Reactive Protein
Follow-Up Studies
Hospitals, University
Neurologic Manifestations
Proportional Hazards Models
Retrospective Studies
Risk Factors
Staphylococcus aureus*
Treatment Failure
Treatment Outcome
Anti-Bacterial Agents
C-Reactive Protein
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