Improving treatments for children with joint infections

Associate Professor Tony Walls is investigating a new way to increase compliance to antibiotic treatment for children with bone and joint infections. With funding from Cure Kids, his team are investigating the effectiveness of cephalexin when it is supplemented with probenecid. If the regimen proves effective, hospital stays for children with bone or joint infections could be reduced.

Associate Professor Tony Walls

University of Otago

Bone and joint infections, such as osteomyelitis and septic arthritis, can seriously affect the quality of life for affected children. Caused by bacterial infections, these conditions often require hospitalisation, administration of intravenous antibiotic treatments and lengthy antibiotic treatment after discharge.

The duration of a hospital stay ranges from a few days to 2 or 3 weeks. At discharge from hospital, children are prescribed an oral antibiotic course of either flucloxacillin or cefalexin. The compliance required for an optimum outcome is often an issue because either the antibiotics have a nasty taste or doses are accidentally missed.

Looking at ways to increase compliance to antibiotic treatment

Probenecid can increase the time that an antibiotic is active in the body, so that the dosing regimen can be simpler.

Associate Professor Tony Walls from the University of Otago wants to find a way to increase compliance to antibiotic treatment by making the drugs more palatable to children and reducing the amount of doses required each day.

Dr Walls and his team are investigating the effectiveness of cephalexin, known for its pleasant taste, when it is supplemented with probenecid. Probenecid can increase the time that an antibiotic is active in the body, so that the dosing regimen can be simpler, i.e. twice a day rather than four times a day.

The study will recruit 12 to 18 children between the ages of 2 and 12 years with bone or joint infections. The team will take blood samples at several time points before and after dosage, to establish if cephalexin is still present in the blood.

If the cephalexin/probenecid regimen proves effective, hospital stays for children with bone or joint infections could be reduced and compliance for ongoing treatment will be more consistent.

Cure Kids is funding this valuable research

We are helping Professor Walls with his study by paying for a research nurse, as well as associated consumables and patient costs.