Infect Drug Resist 2018 16;11:417-425. Epub 2018 Mar 16.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Fargo, ND, USA.
Background: The prescription of topical antibiotics for the prevention of infections in uncomplicated wounds is common. However, the efficacy is not well reported. Therefore, the objective of the study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the available evidence on prevention of uncomplicated wound infections by prophylactic topical antibiotics.
Materials And Methods: The search included Pubmed, Google Scholar, SCOPUS, Embase, Cochrane, ClinicalTrials.gov, International Clinical Trials Registry Platform, National Technical Information Service, and the National Guidelines Clearinghouse.
Results: We identified eight randomized controlled trials and four quasi-randomized trials that met the criteria for the systematic review. Of these trials, 11 studies were pooled for meta-analysis to compare the effects of topical antibiotics versus placebo and 4 studies were pooled for comparison of effects of topical antibiotics versus topical antiseptics on uncomplicated wounds. Fewer wound infections occurred in the topical antibiotic arms compared to placebo (pooled risk ratio: 0.57 [95% CI: 0.37 to 0.86]; =0.01 and pooled risk difference: -3.1% [95% CI: -5.8% to -0.34%]; =0.03). Compared to antiseptics, topical antibiotics demonstrated statistically significant relative risk reduction (pooled risk ratio: 0.56 [95% CI: 0.23 to 0.91]; =0.02), while there was no significant absolute risk reduction (pooled risk difference: -3.7% [95% CI: -7.9% to +0.6%]; =0.09).
Conclusion: Topical antibiotics are effective in reducing wound infections after surgical procedures, but the absolute benefit is small. Given the global emergence of antimicrobial resistance, judicious use of antibiotics is encouraged and use of antiseptics should be considered as a reasonable alternative to topical antibiotics.