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Freedom from antibiotic purgatory?: Salvage phage therapy for cure of spinal hardware infection


May 12, 2pm Mountain Time

An elderly female patient with progressively worsening chronic low back pain presented to the University of Colorado Hospital for a challenging spinal fixation surgery in the Summer 2020.   In the weeks that followed, her course was complicated by tissue dehiscence along the spinal surgical incision with underlying vertebral osteomyelitis secondary to Pseudomonas aeruginosa hardware infection.  Given the patient’s age and history of cerebral vascular aneurysms, her medical team determined that she was a poor candidate for oral quinolone suppression therapy of the hardware infection.  No longer a surgical candidate and unwilling to spend her life on chronic intravenous antibiotic therapy, the patient faced the decision of hospice versus experimental phage therapy.  Bravely, she chose the latter.  In partnership with collaborators at Yale University, we detail our successful single patient experience of phage therapy against P. aeruginosaspinal hardware infection.  If the outcome were to hold, to the best of our knowledge, this case would represent the first cure of a spinal hardware infection with salvage phage therapy.

Laura Damioli, MD Profile Image

Laura Damioli, MD

Assistant Professor Infectious Diseases, Director, Orthopedic Infectious Diseases | University of Colorado Anschutz

Greg Canfield, MD, PhD Profile Image

Greg Canfield, MD, PhD

ID Fellow, PGY6 | Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Colorado Anschutz