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Dermatol Clin. 2003 Apr;21(2):337-48.

Antibiotic use in dermatologic surgery.

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  • 1Dermatology Department, University of California at San Francisco, 1701 Divisadero Street, Room 356, San Francisco, CA 94115-3011, USA.


Few situations in dermatologic surgery require prophylactic antibiotics. The AHA has decreased the dose for endocarditis prophylaxis from antibiotics before and after the procedure to only 1 hour prior to the procedure. In the 1997 guidelines, fewer procedures are listed as requiring antibiotics compared with prior guidelines. In fact, several authors have questioned the efficacy of prophylactic antibiotics. The sequela of endocarditis or an infected prosthetic joint are certainly serious and possibly life-threatening conditions, yet this should not be a justification for using a therapy that is not proven and has potential serious side effects of its own. The authors suggest not using antibiotics on clean or clean-contaminated wounds regardless of cardiac history. Patients with prosthetic joint replacements probably do not need prophylactic antibiotics in cutaneous surgery unless mucosa is invaded; in such cases the guidelines set by the ADA and the AAOS should be followed. The authors believe that antibiotics should be reserved for contaminated or infected wounds when their application is therapeutic. Table 2 contains a summary of the authors' recommendations for the use of antibiotics in cutaneous surgery. Each patient should be evaluated on an individual basis, and consultation with the patient's primary physician, cardiologist, or orthopedist should be sought when the need arises.

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