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An increased use of prophylactic antibiotics to avoid postoperative infections in women undergoing hysterectomy has been observed in Sweden. This investigation was performed a) to study the infection rate to enable future evaluation of the effect of prophylactic antibiotic regimens and b) to identify subgroups suitable for intervention.A prospective study comprising all women undergoing pelvic surgery with hysterectomy during a two month period at forty-two Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology in Sweden. Relevant information regarding the surgical procedure and the postoperative course was included in a standardized form at discharge from hospital and at a follow-up visit 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.Of the 1060 women included in the study, 23% developed postoperative infections; 9.4% had wound-, cuff-, and/or deep infections, 13% urinary tract infections, and 4% other infections unrelated to the surgical site. Only half of the wound/cuff-/deep infections were diagnosed before discharge from the hospital. Wertheim-Meigs procedures, bleedings peroperatively exceeding 1000 ml, and presence of bacterial vaginosis (BV) were associated with an increased risk of postoperative infections. Among women undergoing abdominal hysterectomy for benign reasons, (n=159), wound-cuff/deep infection was significantly associated with preoperative BV, i.e. 7 of 28 (25%) vs. 11 of 131 (8%), respectively (relative risk=3.0, p=0.01). Infection was associated with prolonged postoperative hospital stay. Antibiotics were given pre- or postoperatively to 236 (22%) of the 1060 women. Reduction in the postoperative infection rate was seen among women undergoing vaginal hysterectomy who were given preor postoperative antibiotics.The postoperative infection rate after hysterectomy was clinically significant in this population. Wertheim-Meigs procedures, peroperative bleeding >1000 ml and BV were identified as risk factors for postoperative infections after hysterectomy.