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Ann Surg. 1988 Jan;207(1):108-11.

Antibiotic use during major head and neck surgery.

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  • 1Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania.


The appropriate use of prophylactic antimicrobial therapy in patients undergoing major contaminated surgery is an important issue for the head and neck surgeon. A series of five sequential, prospective, randomized, double-blind clinical trials of antibiotics for patients undergoing major contaminated oncologic head and neck surgery are reviewed and summarized. The information generated from the study of these 547 patients indicates that a number of drugs or drug combinations have similar efficacy when employed in adequate dosage. The bacteriologic spectrum of the prophylactic drug should include oral microflora, especially anaerobic bacteria. The administration of antibiotics effective against gram-negative aerobic bacteria may be unnecessary. Perioperative antibiotic administration should be initiated prior to surgery. To date, no evidence exists to support prolonged administration of antibiotics beyond the first 24 hours following surgery.

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