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Since 1977, six clinical trials have been performed on the subject of routine antibiotic prophylaxis in patients requiring tube thoracostomy for trauma. No definitive conclusions have been reached regarding the efficacy of antibiotic use in this setting. The results of these clinical trials were pooled to generate an unbiased estimate of the efficacy of antibiotic prophylaxis for tube thoracostomy using the technique of meta-analysis. Meta-analysis is a statistical method for synthesizing results from separate but similar experiments, grouping them, and comparing each to the null hypothesis. Meta-analysis allows synthesis of all of the available data on antibiotic prophylaxis for tube thoracostomy to resolve the controversy surrounding this issue generated by different but similar clinical studies with conflicting results. Despite different conclusions of value when taken individually, the combined analysis does not support the null hypothesis (no effect of antibiotics). The statistical method is highly significant despite different mechanisms of injury, pathologic findings, and antibiotics employed.