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Ann Surg. 2015 Jan;261(1):72-80. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000000704.

Glycopeptides versus β-lactams for the prevention of surgical site infections in cardiovascular and orthopedic surgery: a meta-analysis.

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*Department of Orthopaedic Surgery †Anesthesiology Institute & Department of Outcomes Research ‡Department of Quantitative Health Sciences (QHS); and §Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH.



To compare the efficacy of glycopeptides and β-lactams in preventing surgical site infections (SSIs) in cardiac, vascular, and orthopedic surgery.


The cost-effectiveness of switching from β-lactams to glycopeptides for preoperative antibiotic prophylaxis has been controversial. β-Lactams are generally recommended in clean surgical procedures, but they are ineffective against resistant gram-positive bacteria.


PubMed, International Pharmaceuticals Abstracts, Scopus, and Cochrane were searched for randomized clinical trials comparing glycopeptides and β-lactams for prophylaxis in adults undergoing cardiac, vascular, or orthopedic surgery. Abstracts and conference proceedings were included. Two independent reviewers performed study selection, data extraction, and assessment of risk of bias.


Fourteen studies with a total of 8952 patients were analyzed. No difference was detected in overall SSIs between antibiotic types. However, compared with β-lactams, glycopeptides reduced the risk of resistant staphylococcal SSIs by 48% (relative risk, 0.52; 95% confidence interval, 0.29-0.93; P = 0.03) and enterococcal SSIs by 64% (relative risk, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.16-0.80; P = 0.01), but increased respiratory tract infections by 54% (relative risk, 1.54; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-2.01; P ≤ 0.01). Subgroup analysis of cardiac procedures showed superiority of β-lactams in preventing superficial and deep chest SSIs, susceptible staphylococcal SSIs, and respiratory tract infections.


Glycopeptides reduce the risk of resistant staphylococcal SSIs and enterococcal SSIs, but increase the risk of respiratory tract infections. Additional high-quality randomized clinical trials are needed as these results are limited by high risk of bias.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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