J Bone Jt Infect 2018; 3(4):182-186. doi:10.7150/jbji.27718

Short Research Communication

Prolonged Cefoxitin Infusion Using Mobile Elastomeric Infusors In Outpatients With Bone And Joint Infection

Zoé Cavalli1,2, Agathe Becker2,3,4, Alexie Bosch2,3,4, Anne Conrad2,3,4, Claire Triffault-Filit2,3,4, Florent Valour2,3,4,5, Frederic Laurent2,4,5,6, Sabine Cohen7, Christian Chidiac2,3,4, Tristan Ferry2,3,4,5 Corresponding address

1. Service de Maladies Infectieuses, Hôpital de Mercy, Centre Hospitalier Régional Metz-Thionville, France
2. Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Lyon, France
3. Service de Maladies Infectieuses, Hôpital de la Croix-Rousse, Hospices Civils de Lyon, France
4. Centre Interrégional de Référence des Infections Ostéo-articulaires complexes (CRIOAc Lyon), Hospices Civils de Lyon, France
5. Centre International de Recherche en Infectiologie, CIRI, Inserm U1111, CNRS UMR5308, ENS de Lyon, UCBL1, Lyon, France
6. Laboratoire de Bactériologie, Institut des Agents Infectieux, Hôpital de la Croix-Rousse, Hospices Civils de Lyon, France
7. Laboratoire de Biochimie, Unité de pharmacologie et toxicologie, Hospices Civils de Lyon, France

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How to cite this article:
Cavalli Z, Becker A, Bosch A, Conrad A, Triffault-Filit C, Valour F, Laurent F, Cohen S, Chidiac C, Ferry T. Prolonged Cefoxitin Infusion Using Mobile Elastomeric Infusors In Outpatients With Bone And Joint Infection. J Bone Jt Infect 2018; 3(4):182-186. doi:10.7150/jbji.27718. Available from http://www.jbji.net/v03p0182.htm


We reviewed all outpatients with bone and joint infection treated with cefoxitin in continuous intravenous infusion using mobile elastomeric infusors in our regional reference center between 2014 and 2017. The stability of cefoxitin provides an interesting and well-tolerated alternative for continuous infusion in outpatients with polymicrobial bone and joint infection.

Keywords: cefoxitin, infusor, bone, joint


Cefoxitin, a second-generation cephalosporin belonging to the cephamycin group, is classically used as prophylactic antibiotherapy in surgery (1). However, its characteristics can also enable therapeutic application in bone and joint infection (BJI), and a few studies published in the 1970s showed potential efficacy in this indication (2-4). As cefoxitin is not expensive, stable for 24h at 37°C, and has an interesting spectrum targeting Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococci and Enterobacteriaceae (5), it has been increasingly prescribed using mobile elastomeric infusors in some of our outpatients with BJI. The aim of the present study was to describe this emergent practice.


A retrospective observational cohort study included all BJI outpatients treated with cefoxitin in continuous intravenous infusion using mobile elastomeric infusors (LV10® pump, Baxter (Figure 1); DOSI-FUSER®, Asept Inmed; Easypump® II, Braun; or Accufuser®, Vygon) in our regional reference center (Hospices Civils de Lyon, France) between 2014 and 2017. Cefoxitin was quantified in serum by liquid chromatography associated to high-resolution mass spectrometry, routinely used in the laboratory; concentrations were evaluated at steady state and were expressed as mg/L. The study was approved by the institutional review board, based on French ethical rules: informed consent waiver was granted as all data were already available. Clinical and bacteriological data were retrospectively collected from electronic medical charts used and reported as means and percentages.



Thirty-three patients were included (26 male: 79%), with a mean age of 54.5±14.9 years. Fifteen (45.5%) had at least one or more underlying disease: paraplegia (n=5), obesity (n=5), diabetes (n=2), cancer (n=2), immunosuppressive therapy (n=3) or chronic kidney disease (n=3).

 Figure 1 

LV10® pump from Baxter

J Bone Jt Infect Image (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Clinical presentation

The BJI was localized in the lower limbs (n=16), the upper limbs (n=4), pelvis (n=6), spine (n=3), mandible (n=3) or skull (n=1) and consisted of medullary osteomyelitis (n=2), superficial osteomyelitis (n=14), localized osteomyelitis (n=4), diffuse osteomyelitis (n=7), prosthetic joint infection (n=3) or postoperative spine infection (n=3). Fifteen BJIs (45%) were orthopedic implant-related infections. The main BJI characteristics are summarized in Table 1. Bone was exposed in 8 of the 33 patients (24%). Infection mechanisms comprised direct inoculation (23/33: 70%), contiguity to another infection (4/33: 12%) and pressure ulcer-related osteomyelitis (6/33: 18%). Mean BJI progression was 8.3 ±13.7 years, with a median of 2 years and ranging from 1 month to 60 years. Twenty patients (64%) had undergone surgery for the BJI before treatment with cefoxitin.


Bacteriological identification was available for 32 patients (97%). BJI was polymicrobial in 23 patients (72%), with a mean 2.8±1.9 strains per patient and a median 3 strains: 24 (75%) Staphylococcus spp (12 Staphylococcus aureus and 15 coagulase negative staphylococci), 8 (25%) streptococci, 23 (72%) anaerobic bacteria, 3 (9%) enterococci and 13 (41%) Enterobacteriaceae. Cefoxitin susceptibility was determined by the antimicrobial susceptibility test and interpretation following the European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST) (6). It was not possible to perform cefoxitin minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) measurement due to the retrospective study design, as no isolates were still available.


Thirty-two patients (97%) underwent surgery in addition to antibiotherapy: debridement (n=20), implant removal (n=10) including partial drop (n=1), negative pressure wound care (n=5), debridement with implant conservation (n=6), internal fixation (n=4), effusion drainage (n=5), bone graft (n=3), bone sequestrum removal (n=4), cement spacer implantation (n=2), one-step implant exchange (n=1), or skin flap (n=1). The surgery was considered optimal in 24 cases (73%). Eleven patients (33%) required a second procedure.


For 27 patients (82%), other antimicrobials were already being used when cefoxitin was started. Cefoxitin was used for a mean 8.0±5.1 weeks, within a total mean duration of antibiotherapy of 18.2±6.1 weeks. Cefoxitin was chosen by the physician because of the polymicrobial character of infection or to avoid too many oral drugs with consequent risk of non-adherence, oral intake difficulties and/or cumulative toxicity. In all patients but one, cefoxitin was used in combination: with a fluoroquinolone (n=17), clindamycin (n=10), rifampicin (n=4), vancomycin (n=2), daptomycin (n=2), or metronidazole (n=3). The most common dose was 6g/day (n=18); 2 obese patients (98 and 75 kg) received 8g/day, 2 obese patients (115 and 105 kg) received 9g/day and 1 patient with low weight (45 kg) received 4g/day. For all patients, cefoxitin was administered continuously using a mobile elastomeric infusor connected to a PICC-line. Cefoxitin was stopped for oral relay in 21 patients (64%), end of antibiotherapy in 5 (15%), treatment failure in 6 (18%), and intolerance in 1 (3%). Mean steady-state cefoxitin plasma concentration was 13.2±6.1 mg/L, with a median of 11.7 mg/L, ranging from 4.6 to 34 mg/L, and always above the MIC of the targeted pathogen.


The tolerance was good for most patients (n=30; 91%). There were 2 minor adverse reactions; the only serious adverse event was a drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), but implicating a fluoroquinolone introduced few weeks before. No patients experienced C. difficile infection.


At the end of antibiotherapy, 23 patients (70%) were considered cured, including 1 under suppressive therapy. Three of the 10 treatment failures related to non-optimal surgery, 5 to superinfection by cefoxitin-resistant bacteria (with bone exposure in 4 cases), 1 to non-optimal antimicrobial chemotherapy because of multiple intolerance to oral molecules; the last patient counted as failure was lost to follow-up. In cured patients, mean follow-up was 5.8±5.7 months, with a median of 3 months. There was 1 relapse, due to a plurimicrobial osteomyelitis of the mandible 1 year after end of treatment.

 Table 1 

Main characteristics of the 33 BJI

1109gyespost-operative spine infectioncollection drainage, partial implant removalFinegoldia, E. coliCiprofloxacin Daptomycincure
246gnosuperficial osteomyelitisnoneS. epidermidis, PeptostreptococcusCiprofloxacinfailure
346gyesdiffuse osteomyelitisimplant removal, debridementS. aureus, S. lugdunensis, PeptostreptococcusClindamycincure
456gyesdiffuse osteomyelitisdebridement, implant removal, osteosynthesis, bone graftS. capitisOfloxacinfailure
5128gyesprosthetic joint infectioncollection drainage, debridement and implant retentionStreptococcus mitis/oralisLevofloxacinfailure
626gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridement, negative pressure wound care establishmentS. aureusOfloxacinfailure
766gnolocalized osteomyelitisdebridement, bone sequestrum removalS. aureus, Streptococcus constellatus, Bacteroides, CitrobacterOfloxacin Metronidazolecure
846gyessuperficial osteomyelitisdebridement, implant removal, negative pressure wound care establishmentS. aureus, S. lugdunensis, Corynebacterium, E. coliOfloxacinfailure
926gyespost-operative spine infectiondebridement and implant retentionS. capitis, Propionibacterium, E. coli, ProteusOfloxacincure
1086gyessuperficial osteomyelitisimplant removal, negative pressure wound care establishmentS. aureus, Enterococcus avium, Helcococcus, Proteus, E. coliTeicoplanincure
1186gyesdiffuse osteomyelitisimplant removal, osteosynthesis, bone graftS. capitis, Streptococcus mitis/parasanguinisOfloxacincure
1266gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridement, bone sequestrum removalS. aureus, Prevotella, HaemophilusClindamycincure
1366gnolocalized osteomyelitisdebridementStreptococcus parasanguinis/mitis/salivarius, Veilonella, CitrobacterLevofloxacin Metronidazolecure
1469gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridementPropionibacterium, Gemella, Fusobacterium, FinegoldiaMetronidazolecure
15236gyessuperficial osteomyelitisdebridement and implant retention, skin flapS. aureus, S. lugdunensis, Streptococcus mitis, Peptinophilus, FinegoldiaClindamycincure
1636gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridementS. aureusClindamycincure
17126gyessuperficial osteomyelitisdebridement and implant retentionS. aureus, Streptococcus agalactiaeOfloxacin Rifampicincure
18124gnodiffuse osteomyelitisdebridement, bone graft, osteosynthesissterileCiprofloxacincure
19246gyessuperficial osteomyelitisdebridement, debridement and implant retentionEnterococcus faecalis, Prevotella, Peptinophilus, Porphyromonas, E. coliDaptomycin Ciprofloxacincure
20126gnosuperficial osteomyelitiscollection drainage, debridementS. aureus, Streptococcus anginosus/constellatus/interm, Bacteroides, Actinomyces, Corynebacterium, Finegoldia, E. coliClindamycinfailure
2166gnomedullary osteomyelitiscollection drainage, debridementS. aureusRifampicincure
22126gyesdiffuse osteomyelitisimplant removal, debridementS. aureusClindamycinfailure
2386gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridment, negative pressure wound care establishmentS. capitis, Propionibacterium, ProteusMoxifloxacinfailure
2486gyesprosthetic joint infectiondebridement and partial implant retention, partial implant one-stage exchangeS. lugdunensis, S. caprae, S. capitisOfloxacincure
2566gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridementS. aureus, ActinomycesClindamycincure
2636gnolocalized osteomyelitisdebridement, bone sequestrum removalStreptococcus gordoni/mitis/constellatus/intermedius, Actinomyces, Haemophilusnocure
2766gnolocalized osteomyelitisdebridementVeilonellaClindamycincure
2866gyesdiffuse osteomyelitisimplant removal, debridementS. aureus, PropionibacteriumClindamycincure
2986gyesmedullary osteomyelitiscollection drainage, implant removal, negative pressure wound care establishmentS. epidermidis, CorynebacteriumRifampicinfailure
30126gnosuperficial osteomyelitisdebridementS. aureus, Streptococcus equismilis, Corynebacterium, ProteusVancomycin Ofloxacinecure
3136gnopost-operative spine infectiondebridementS. epidermidisClindamycincure
3288gyesprosthetic joint infectionimplant removal, cement spacer establishmentProteusOfloxacincure
3386gnodiffuse osteomyelitisdebridement, cement spacer establishment, osteosynthesisS. capitis, S. epidermidis, PropionibacteriumRifampicinfailure


BJI is difficult to manage, often requiring surgery and prolonged antibiotherapy, sometimes with several drugs that may be poorly tolerated. Cefoxitin is an old antibiotic developed in the early 1970s, but not available in all countries; it is mostly used in prophylactic treatment, but has specific features that allow increasing use in curative treatment of BJI (7).

Few studies of cefoxitin in BJI have been published. Bone diffusion is similar to that of other cephalosporins, reaching 20% of serum level in bone and synovial fluid 1 hour after administration (8,9). Perkins et al. reported 27 skin and soft tissue infections treated by cefoxitin, with 93% success, including 3 with contiguous osteomyelitis (4). More interestingly, Schurman et al. reported 31 patients with acute or chronic infections of bone, joint or muscle and tendon, with an 84% cure rate (2).

Cefoxitin is a broad-spectrum molecule, including gram-positive cocci (methicillin-susceptible staphylococci, streptococci), Gram-negative bacilli (including extended-spectrum beta-lactamases [ESBL] producing Enterobacteriaceae) and anaerobic bacteria (5). In comparison, ceftriaxone exhibits sub-optimal in-vitro activity against MSSA isolates and is not active on anaerobes, unlike cefoxitin, which is usually active on Bacteroides fragilis (10). In the present study, cefoxitin was chosen mainly because of the nature of the BJI, so as to avoid using 3 or 4 oral antibiotics, with potentially higher risk of cumulative toxicity.

A maximum time above 2-3 target bacterium MIC is generally considered a suitable pharmacologic goal. Considering that, for susceptible isolates, the maximum MIC of cefoxitin is 8 mg/L for Gram-negative bacilli, 4 mg/L for S. aureus and S. lugdunensis and 8 mg/L for S. saprophyticus (6), the present mean steady-state level of 13.2 mg/L reached this therapeutic target. These concentrations were obtained with a mean dose of 6g/day, adjusted for patients with extreme weights.

Cefoxitin is also a time-dependent antibiotic, stable at room temperature (11,12) and at 37°C (13). Consequently, continuous infusion administered at home with elastometric diffusors is a very interesting means of reducing hospital stay. Elastomeric infusors in polyisoprene are preferable than silicone for constant stable infusion (14). Cefoxitin stability in elastometric diffusors was evaluated by Baxter, but only up to 8°C (manufacturer's data). However, the mean pharmacological dose at equilibrium was adequate in the present patients.

Finally, adverse effects of cefoxitin are rare. Cross-reactivity between cephamycins and other beta-lactams was reported, but incidence of allergic reaction was low and any reactions were mild (15). Other possible adverse events comprise: local reactions, and gastro-intestinal, hematologic, hepatic or renal disorders (5). The seminal study published in 1977, with 143 patients, found a 1.4% rate of eruption, 2% cytolysis, 2% leucopenia, 2.5% eosinophilia and 5% thrombophlebitis (16). In the present study, global tolerance was good, with only 1 severe adverse event, which was likely not related to cefoxitin but to another antibiotic used concomitantly.


Cefoxitin can be a useful outpatient parenteral alternative in the treatment of BJI. Its spectrum is interesting in case of polymicrobial infection, its potential stability enables continuous infusion with elastomeric infusors, and tolerance is generally good. A prospective study with homogeneous infusor management (type of diffusor, dilution, stability analysis) in patients with BJI and with blood pharmacokinetic/ pharmacodynamic analysis is needed to confirm these results.

Competing Interests

The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.


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Author contact

Corresponding address Corresponding author: Zoé Cavalli, Hôpital de Mercy, Centre Hospitalier Régional Metz-Thionville, 1 Allée du Château, 57245 Ars-Laquenexy, France; z.cavallifr; phone +33387179256; fax +33387553588

Received 2018-6-7
Accepted 2018-7-26
Published 2018-9-7