Broad-Spectrum Antibiotics for Breast Expander/Implant Infection: Treatment-Related Adverse Events and Outcomes

Ann Plast Surg. 2021 Oct 1;87(4):396-401. doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000002720.


Background: Despite best practices, infection remains the most common complication after breast reconstruction with expanders and implants, ranging from 2% to 29%. Empiric broad-spectrum antibiotics are frequently used in nonsurgical treatment of implant-associated infections in an effort to salvage the reconstruction. Pitfalls of antibiotherapy include adverse events, vascular access site complications, and drug resistance. Our goals were to describe management of implant infections with broad-spectrum antibiotics, review treatment related adverse events, and report on outcomes of therapy.

Patients and methods: A retrospective review was carried out to identify patients who were treated with intravenous (IV) antibiotics for periprosthetic infection. Patient characteristics, surgical details, and antibiotic therapy-related adverse events were collected. Eventual outcome related to expander/implant salvage was noted.

Results: A total of 101 patients (111 treatment episodes) were identified. Mean duration of antibiotic treatment was 18 days (range, 1-40 days). The most commonly used parenteral treatment was a combination of daptomycin with piperacillin-tazobactam (65%) or an alternative agent (16%). Fifty-nine percent of treatment episodes resulted in salvage of the expander or implant. Thirty-five percent treatment episodes were associated with 1 or more adverse events: diarrhea (12.6%), rash (10%), vaginal candidiasis (3.6%), agranulocytosis/neutropenic fever (3.6%), nausea (3.6%), urinary complaint (0.9%), myositis (0.9%), headache (0.9%), vascular line occlusion (1.8%), deep vein thrombosis (1.8%), and finger numbness (0.9%). No patients developed Clostridium difficile colitis. Five episodes (4%) needed discontinuation of antibiotics because of severe adverse events. The prosthesis was explanted in 3 of the cases of discontinued treatment.

Conclusions: Our findings show favorable outcomes and well-tolerated adverse effects with broad-spectrum parenteral antibiotherapy for periprosthetic infection. However, every effort should be made to deescalate therapy by narrowing the spectrum or limiting the duration, to minimize adverse events and development of bacterial resistance. Treating surgeons need to carefully weigh benefits of therapy and be aware of potential complications that might necessitate discontinuation of treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Breast Implantation* / adverse effects
  • Breast Implants* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prosthesis-Related Infections* / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents