The use of prophylactic antibiotics in treatment of fingertip amputation: a randomized prospective trial☆,☆☆,★,★★

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Fingertip amputation is a common injury. Considerable controversy exists as to whether prophylactic antibiotics are necessary for this injury. Our goal was to compare the rate of infections among subgroups with and without prophylactic antibiotic treatment. The study hypothesis was that infection rates were similar in the 2 groups.


This was a prospective randomized control trial of adult patients presenting with fingertip amputation with bone exposed, requiring surgical treatment. Patients were randomized to 2 groups: group 1 received no antibiotics, and group 2 received 1 g intravenous antibiotics (cefazolin) for 3 days. The 2 groups were matched for age, time to surgery, injury mechanism, and type of surgery. All surgical treatments were performed in the operating room, and all patients were reevaluated in our outpatient clinic after 10 days and again after a month. The primary outcome measure was the rate of infection.


Fifty-eight patients were initially enrolled in the study; 2 patients withdrew before study completion, 29 subjects were randomized to the no-antibiotic group, and 27 subjects were randomized to the antibiotic group. No statistically significant differences on any baseline values were found between the 2 treatment groups. There was no infection in either group at the end of follow-up.


This study suggests that routine prophylactic antibiotics do not reduce the rate of infection after fingertip amputations with bone exposed treated surgically in the operating room.

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