Type III Open Tibia Fractures: Immediate Antibiotic Prophylaxis Minimizes Infection

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine the association between antibiotic timing and deep infection of type III open tibia fractures.

Design:

Retrospective prognostic study.

Setting:

Level 1 Trauma Center.

Patients:

The study population included 137 patients after exclusions for missing data (13), nonreconstructible limbs (9), and/or absence of 90-day outcome data (3).

Intervention:

An observational study of antibiotic timing.

Main Outcome Measurement:

Deep infection within 90 days.

Results:

Age, smoking, diabetes, injury severity score, type IIIA versus 3B/C injury, and time to surgical debridement were not associated with infection on univariate analysis. Greater than 5 days to wound coverage (P < 0.001) and greater than 66 minutes to antibiotics (P < 0.01) were univariate predictors of infection. Multivariate analysis found wound coverage beyond 5 days [odds ratio, 7.39; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.33–23.45; P < 0.001] and antibiotics beyond 66 minutes (odds ratio, 3.78; 95% CI, 1.16–12.31; P = 0.03) independently predicted infection. Immediate antibiotics and early coverage limited the infection rate (1 of 36, 2.8%) relative to delay in either factor (6 of 59, 10.2%) or delay in both factors (17 of 42, 40.5%).

Conclusions:

Time from injury to antibiotics and to wound coverage independently predict infection of type III open tibia fractures. Both should be achieved as early as possible, with coverage being dependent on the condition of the wound. Given the relatively short therapeutic window for antibiotic prophylaxis (within an hour of injury), prehospital antibiotics may substantially improve outcomes for severe open fractures.

Level of Evidence:

Prognostic Level II. See Instructions for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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