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Laryngoscope. 1993 Jan;103(1 Pt 1):22-7.

Nonwound infections following head and neck oncologic surgery.

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Department of Head and Neck Surgery, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


Little information exists regarding the comorbidity of postoperative nonwound infections (NWIs) in patients with head and neck cancer. Prospectively, 225 patients were randomized in a double-blind fashion to receive either clindamycin or ampicillin sodium/sulbactam sodium for prevention of postoperative wound infection. Of the 113 patients receiving clindamycin, 14 developed nonwound infections, compared with 10 of 112 patients receiving ampicillin/sulbactam. A single site of nonwound infection occurred in 21 patients, and 2 sites occurred in 3 patients. The majority of infections were pulmonary (22), followed by urinary tract (3), septic phlebitis (1), and acute sinusitis (1). Gram-negative organisms were isolated more frequently among patients on clindamycin (18) versus ampicillin/sulbactam (6) (P = .014). Risk factors for pulmonary nonwound infection included: longer surgery, a greater than 70 packs per year smoking history, blood transfusion, and hypoalbuminemia (P < .05). Nonwound infections produce significant postoperative morbidity and the predominance of gram-negative organisms isolated from these infections has therapeutic implications.

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