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Am J Otolaryngol. 2019 Nov - Dec;40(6):102276. doi: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2019.102276. Epub 2019 Aug 14.

Prophylactic antibiotics in head and neck free flap surgery: A novel protocol put to the test.

Author information

1
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
2
Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
3
Department of Surgery, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
4
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA; University of Florida Health Cancer Center, Gainesville, FL, USA. Electronic address: peter.dziegielewski@ent.ufl.edu.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Recent evidence supports the use of ampicillin-sulbactam as a favored choice for antibiotic prophylaxis following head and neck free flap reconstructive surgery. However, there is a paucity of evidence guiding the optimal duration of antibiotic prophylaxis. The aim of this study is to compare the infection rates of short courses of ampicillin-sulbactam versus extended courses of various antibiotics in head and neck free flap reconstructive surgery.

METHODS:

This is a retrospective cohort study conducted from 2012 to 2017 at a tertiary academic center on 266 consecutive patients undergoing head and neck surgery with free flap reconstruction. The primary outcome measure was the rate of any infection within 30 days of surgery.

RESULTS:

There were 149 patients who received antibiotic prophylaxis for an extended duration of at least seven days. 117 patients received a short course of antibiotics defined as 24 h for non-radiated patients and 72 h for radiated patients. Postoperative infections occurred in 45.9% of patients, of which 92.6% occurred at surgical sites. There was no significant difference in terms of postoperative infection rate between patients receiving an extended duration of antibiotics versus a short duration (p = 0.80). This held true for subgroups of surgical site infections (p = 0.38) and distant infections (p = 0.59 for pneumonia and p = 0.76 for UTI). Risk factors for infections were identified as hypothyroidism (p = 0.047) and clean contaminated wound classification (p = 0.0002).

CONCLUSION:

Shorter duration of ampicillin-sulbactam prophylaxis in free flap reconstruction of head and neck defects does not negatively affect postoperative infection rates.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Level 2b.

KEYWORDS:

Antibiotic prophylaxis; Free flap; Head and neck cancer; Surgical site infection

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