Antibiotic prophylaxis for cesarean section
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BACKGROUND: The single most important risk factor for postpartum maternal infection is cesarean delivery. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this review was to assess the effects of prophylactic antibiotic treatment on infectious complications in women undergoing cesarean delivery. SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register (January 2002) and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (The Cochrane Library, Issue 4, 2001). SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized trials comparing antibiotic prophylaxis or no treatment for both elective and non-elective cesarean section. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers assessed trial quality and extracted data. MAIN RESULTS: Eighty-one trials were included. Use of prophylactic antibiotics in women undergoing cesarean section substantially reduced the incidence of episodes of fever, endometritis, wound infection, urinary tract infection and serious infection after cesarean section. The reduction in the risk of endometritis with antibiotics was similar across different patient groups: the relative risk (RR) for endometritis for elective cesarean section (number of women = 2037) was 0.38 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.22 to 0.64); the RR for non-elective cesarean section (n = 2132) was 0.39 (95% CI 0.34 to 0.46); and the RR for all patients (n = 11,937) was 0.39 (95% CI 0.31 to 0.43). Wound infections were also reduced: for elective cesarean section (n = 2015) RR 0.73 (95% CI 0.53 to 0.99); for non-elective cesarean section (n = 2780) RR 0.36 95% CI 0.26 to 0.51]; and for all patients (n = 11,142) RR 0.41 (95% CI 0.29 to 0.43). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: The reduction of endometritis by two thirds to three quarters and a decrease in wound infections justifies a policy of recommending prophylactic antibiotics to women undergoing elective or non-elective cesarean section.
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