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Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2013 Jan;95(1):40-2. doi: 10.1308/003588413X13511609954734.

Should prophylactic antibiotics be used routinely in epistaxis patients with nasal packs?

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  • 1University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, UK.



The current mainstream practice in otolaryngology departments relating to the use of prophylactic antibiotics in epistaxis patients requiring nasal packing is highly variable. This is due primarily to the lack of any validated guidelines. As such, we introduced a new treatment algorithm resulting in significant reduction of use in the systemic antibiotics, with emphasis instead on the use of topical antibiotics. The results were validated through a complete audit cycle.


A total of 57 patients undergoing nasal packing for spontaneous epistaxis were studied. Reaudit occurred after the implementation of new guidelines. Telephone surveys were conducted six weeks after hospital discharge, assessing infective nasal symptoms as well as rebleeding and readmission rates.


Systemic antibiotic prescribing in anterior nasal packing fell by 58.2% between audit cycles with no statistically significant associated increase in infective nasal symptoms, rebleeding or readmission rates six weeks following hospital discharge.


Systemic prophylactic antibiotics are unnecessary in the majority of epistaxis patients with nasal packs. The use of topical antibiotics such as Naseptin may be more appropriate, cheaper and as effective. Implementation of this treatment algorithm will help standardise systemic antibiotic usage in epistaxis patients with nasal packing and should reduce costs associated with unnecessary use of such medication.

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