Second generation cephalosporin antibiotic prophylaxis andClostridium difficileinfection in hip and knee arthroplasty

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The use of broad spectrum cephalosporin antibiotics has been discouraged by the Department of Health in England because of the link to increased Clostridium difficile infection rates. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether a local protocol that included the use of second generation cephalosporin (cefuroxime) antibiotics as a prophylactic agent was associated with increased risk of C difficile in elective hip and knee arthroplasty patients.


A retrospective intention-to-treat study was conducted. An infection control database of all cases of C difficile infection both in hospital and in the community was reviewed and cross-referenced against surgical records. A positive correlation was identified when a C difficile positive sample was documented within eight weeks of arthroplasty surgery.


Only 1 case (0.02%) of C difficile positive diarrhoea was identified that correlated to the 8-week postoperative period following 4,488 arthroplasty procedures.


The use of cephalosporin antibiotic prophylaxis in the elective hip and knee arthroplasty setting does not appear to be associated with increased C difficile infection rates, achieving surgical site infection rates that are comparable with the national average.

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