Effects of Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Patients with Open Fracture of the Extremities
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BACKGROUND: The purpose of the present study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the use of alternative antibiotic regimens-including (A) antibiotic prophylaxis versus no prophylaxis, (B) longer versus shorter duration of antibiotic prophylaxis, and (C) alternative drugs-for patients with open fracture of the extremities. METHODS: Data sources included CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), and the Cochrane database of systematic reviews from 1965 to December 2013. All randomized controlled trials comparing the effectiveness of antibiotic prophylaxis in patients with open fracture of the extremities were eligible. RESULTS: We identified 329 potentially eligible articles, of which seventeen proved to be eligible. In four randomized controlled trials involving 472 patients, we found a significantly lower infection rate in patients receiving antibiotic prophylaxis compared with those not receiving antibiotic prophylaxis (risk ratio = 0.37 [95% confidence interval, 0.21 to 0.66]; absolute risk reduction = 9.6% [95% confidence interval, 5.2% to 12.1%]). In three studies involving 1104 patients, we found no difference in the infection rate when a longer duration of antibiotics (three to five days) was compared with a shorter duration (one day) (risk ratio = 0.97; 95% confidence interval, 0.69 to 1.37). Confidence in the estimates for both questions was low to moderate. Individual comparisons of alternative drugs yielded estimates warranting only low to very low confidence. CONCLUSIONS: Results of randomized controlled trials performed to date provide evidence that antibiotic prophylaxis reduces subsequent infection and that courses as short as one day are as effective as courses of three to five days, although the evidence warrants only low to moderate confidence. Given current practice, a large, multicenter, low risk of bias, randomized controlled trial enrolling representative populations and addressing the duration of antibiotics may be the next optimum step in investigation. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic Level I. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.