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July 1979

Use of Antimicrobials in the Management of Open Fractures

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hennepin County Medical Center, the Metropolitan Medical Center, and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Arch Surg. 1979;114(7):805-808. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1979.01370310047010

• The role of antibiotic therapy in open fractures is secondary to adequate debridement, irrigation, and definitive wound care. Experimental and clinical studies indicate that parenteral administration of appropriate antibiotics within three hours after injury helps to prevent wound sepsis. Initial wound cultures of 158 open fracture wounds revealed bacterial growth in 70.3%. Eighty-six were Gram-positive, 57 were Gram-negative, and 32 yielded mixed bacterial growth. Sensitivity studies of these organisms suggest that cephalothin sodium is the most effective antibiotic for prophylaxis. In a prospective study from 1969 to 1975, treatment of 520 patients was as follows: debridement, copious irrigation, and primary closure for types 1 and 2 fractures and secondary closure for type 3 fractures. No primary internal fixation was done except in vascular injuries. Cultures were taken of all wounds and antibiotics were given before surgery and for three days postoperatively. In type 3 open fractures, severe soft tissue injury, and segmental or traumatic amputation, the infection rate was 9%, compared to a 44% infection rate in the retrospective study from 1955 to 1968.

(Arch Surg 114:805-808, 1979)