Home Print this page Email this page Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
Users Online: 206


Home  | About Us | Editors | Search | Ahead Of Print | Current Issue | Archives | Submit Article | Instructions | Subscribe | Contacts | Login 

Table of Contents
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 127-131

Cefazolin and an aminoglycoside compared with cefazolin alone for the antimicrobial prophylaxis of type iii open orthopedic fractures

1 Department of Pharmacy, St. Luke's University Health Network, PA, USA
2 Department of Pharmacy, Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose, CA, USA
3 Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, St. Luke's University Health Network, Bethlehem, PA, USA

Date of Submission10-Feb-2019
Date of Acceptance05-Aug-2019
Date of Web Publication30-Sep-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Shawn C Depcinski
St. Luke's University Health Network, 801 Ostrum Street, Bethlehem, PA 18015
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJCIIS.IJCIIS_7_19

Rights and Permissions

Context: Uncertainty of antibiotic prophylaxis of type III open orthopedic fractures still exists. Controversy remains as using cefazolin as a single agent or the addition of an aminoglycoside for broader coverage to prevent infection.
Aims: The aim of the study was to determine if the combination of cefazolin and an aminoglycoside reduced infections compared with cefazolin alone.
Subjects and Methods: This was a retrospective study inclusive of patients with type III open fracture admitted between January 1, 2010, and August 31, 2014 at a level 1 trauma center, who were prophylactically treated with cefazolin alone or cefazolin and an aminoglycoside.
Statistical Analysis Used: All analyses were performed using Microsoft Excel 2010. Chi-square or Fisher's exact tests were used for categorical data and Wilcoxon rank-sum test for skewed continuous data. Logistic regression analysis was performed on all confounding variables with P < 0.1.
Results: A significantly higher percentage in the combination group developed infection (6/15 [40%] vs. 8/53 [15.1%], P= 0.035). There was a trend toward a higher odds of infection in the combination group (odds ratio: 2.99, 95% confidence interval: 0.79–11.33, P= 0.107). Infection rates due to multidrug-resistant bacteria were statistically higher with the combination group (3/15 [20%] vs. 1/53 [1.9%], P= 0.046). There were no statistically significant differences in 30-day mortality, 1-year readmission rates due to fracture complication, or length of hospital stay.
Conclusions: The results suggest that the addition of an aminoglycoside to cefazolin may not be necessary to prevent infection.

Keywords: Aminoglycoside, antibiotic prophylaxis, cefazolin, gentamicin, infection, open fracture, orthopedic

How to cite this article:
Depcinski SC, Nguyen KH, Ender PT. Cefazolin and an aminoglycoside compared with cefazolin alone for the antimicrobial prophylaxis of type iii open orthopedic fractures. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci 2019;9:127-31

How to cite this URL:
Depcinski SC, Nguyen KH, Ender PT. Cefazolin and an aminoglycoside compared with cefazolin alone for the antimicrobial prophylaxis of type iii open orthopedic fractures. Int J Crit Illn Inj Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2022 Dec 9];9:127-31. Available from: https://www.ijciis.org/text.asp?2019/9/3/127/268352

   Introduction Top

Open orthopedic fractures are classified according to Gustilo and Anderson, in which type III fractures have the highest infection risk.[1],[2] Optimal antibiotic prophylaxis in type III open fractures remains uncertain. Due to the high infection rate of type III fractures, some suggest broad Gram-negative coverage with an aminoglycoside in addition to cefazolin; however, this theory has not been evaluated.[3]

The goal of this study was to assess the infection rates between cefazolin alone compared to cefazolin with an aminoglycoside for type III open fracture prophylaxis.

   Subjects and Methods Top

This retrospective study was conducted in the United States at a 480-bed, level I trauma center. Initially, the study was initially designed for noninferiority; however, due to calculated size requirements, it was converted to a pilot study including approximately 10% of the originally intended population. The study was approved as exempt by the local institutional review board (IRB) (SLHN-2014-98), which granted a waiver of informed consent. The study was designed entirely by the authors, and no funding was obtained. This cohort study was written in accordance with the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guideline.[4]

Patient cohort

Patients were identified for possible inclusion into the trial through the institution's trauma database for open orthopedic fracture if admitted between January 1, 2010, and August 31, 2014. After review of the electronic medical record, patients were included if they had type III open fracture of the upper extremity, lower extremity, or pelvis and had received initial prophylaxis with either cefazolin monotherapy or cefazolin plus an aminoglycoside. Only those not meeting the inclusion criteria were excluded.

The open fracture type was determined from the orthopedic and trauma surgeons' progress notes. The definition for a multidrug-resistant (MDR) organism followed those criteria previously developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).[5] Wound closure time parameters were categorized based on existing literature: immediate closure was completed during the initial surgical intervention, early closure was within 24–72 h, and delayed closure was after 72 h.[6] Fracture-related infection was determined by progress note documentation of an infection located at the site of the type III fracture that required treatment with systemic antibiotics.

Optimal antibiotic dosing in pediatric patients was obtained from Lexicomp Online: Pediatric and Neonatal Lexi-Drugs (https://online.lexi.com/lco/action/home). For adults, the optimal cefazolin dose was obtained from the Infectious Diseases Society of America and Surgical Infection Society (IDSA-SIS) trauma guidelines and the national surgical prophylaxis guidelines.[7],[8] The optimal adult dose for gentamicin or tobramycin was identified as at least 1.5 mg/kg every 8 h or 5 mg/kg every 24 h.


The primary endpoint was type III open fracture-related infection rates within 1 year. Secondary endpoints included 30-day mortality, 1-year readmission secondary to a complication from the fracture, length of the initial hospital stay, and type III fracture-related MDR infection within 1 year.

Statistical analysis

All analyses were performed using Microsoft Excel 2010 (Microsoft Corp., Redmond, WA). Treatment groups were compared with either Chi-square or Fisher's exact tests for categorical data and with Wilcoxon rank-sum test for skewed continuous data. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant. Logistic regression analysis was performed on all confounding variables for the primary outcome with P < 0.1.

   Results Top

Study selection

A total of 251 open fractures were collected from the trauma database. Of these, 183 patients were excluded because they did not meet inclusion criteria: 173 did not have type III fracture and 10 patients received nonstudy antibiotics [Figure 1]. Therefore, 68 patients were included, with 53 in the cefazolin group and 15 in the combination group [Figure 1].
Figure 1: Patient population

Click here to view

Study characteristics

Baseline demographics are noted in [Table 1], and clinical characteristics are summarized in [Table 2] and [Table 3]. In general, the two study groups were similar, with most patients being young, healthy adult males with type IIIA open fracture to the lower extremity caused by blunt trauma, who received surgery within 6 h from presentation with immediate closure and no subsequent surgical intervention. However, in the combination group, diabetes was statistically higher (2/15 [13.3%] vs. 0/52 [0%], P = 0.047) [Table 1] as was the length of antibiotic therapy after the initial surgery (median 2 days [interquartile range (IQR) 2–2.5] vs. 1.5 days [IQR 1-2], P = 0.015) [Table 3].
Table 1: Baseline demographics

Click here to view
Table 2: Trauma type and fracture location

Click here to view
Table 3: Clinical characteristics

Click here to view


For the primary outcome, there were statistically fewer patients in the cefazolin group who developed a type III fracture-related infection within 1 year compared to the combination group (8/53 [15.1%] vs. 6/15 [40%], P = 0.035) [Table 4]. This resulted in the monotherapy group having a relative risk (RR) of 0.38 or an absolute risk (AR) reduction of 24.9% (number-needed-to-treat of 5). Rates of infection due to an MDR organism were significantly higher in the combination group (3/15 [20%] vs. 1/53 [1.9%], P = 0.046) [Table 4], which resulted in a RR of 10.6 or an AR increase of 18.1% (number-needed-to-harm of 6). The only MDR organism that occurred in the monotherapy group was Pseudomonas fluorescens (intrinsically resistant to cefazolin; susceptible to aminoglycosides); whereas, those that occurred in the combination therapy group included two methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (gentamicin susceptible) isolates and one Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (intrinsically resistant to cefazolin and aminoglycosides). There were no statistically significant differences in 30-day mortality, 1-year readmission rates, or length of hospital stay [Table 4].
Table 4: Primary and secondary endpoints

Click here to view

Logistic regression was performed on all independent variables with P < 0.1 (prophylaxis type, antibiotic duration, length of stay, and diabetes) to control for confounding effects on the primary outcome. However, because no diabetic patient developed an infection, the model failed due to perfect separation. Therefore, the analysis was rerun with all of the other variables included [Table 5], which resulted in a low but acceptable Chi-square overall model fit (P = 0.09). With regression, combination treatment trended toward an increased risk of infection (odds ratio 2.99, 95% confidence interval 0.79–11.33, P = 0.107), but this was not significant.
Table 5: Logistic regression analysis of primary outcome*

Click here to view

   Discussion Top

Based on existing practice guidelines and clinical trials, the optimal antibiotic prophylaxis for type III open orthopedic fractures is largely unknown. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that has attempted to compare the two prophylaxis recommendations set forth from the three national guidelines.[3],[8],[9] Our study aimed to assess clinically meaningful outcomes while capturing important confounding factors that may affect rates of postoperative infection.

According to the CDC, many factors may potentially contribute to the development of surgical site infections: age, malnutrition, diabetes, smoking, obesity, immunosuppression, inadequate preoperative skin preparation, and suboptimal antibiotic prophylaxis.[7],[10] Perioperative hyperglycemia, hypoxemia, and hypothermia may also be possible risk factors, according to the CDC and other literature.[11],[12] In our study, both cefazolin and combination groups had similar rates of these confounders, except for the higher incidence of diabetes in the combination group. However, neither of these diabetic patients went on to develop an infection.

Studies in the trauma literature reveal that fracture subcategory, type of trauma, location, initial antibiotic characteristics and duration, time to initial surgery, and wound closure time can influence infection rates.[3],[8],[9],[13],[14] The risk for infection quickly rises from type IIIA to IIIC.[12] In our study, the subcategories reported were similar between groups, with most being type IIIA. A limiting factor was that only a small number (16/53 [30.2%]) of patients in the monotherapy group had their type III fracture subcategory noted.

Many recommendations in the national guidelines are based on discrepant data and expert opinion. Although the recommended time until surgery is within 6–8 h from injury, one study found that this did not significantly affect infection rates.[13],[15] The time from emergency department presentation to the operating room in both of our study groups was comparable at well below 6 h. The preferred type of wound closure has also varied over time. Historically, late closure was favored.[14] However, recent data show most infections to be nosocomial; so, primary closure may be beneficial, which is how most of our patients were managed.[16]

Based upon data showing increased infection rates with delays beyond 3 hours, antibiotics should be started as soon as possible after the injury.[17] While we were unable to directly compare antibiotic dosing times between our groups, we were able to deduce that most patients received antibiotics within 3 h, as the median time from presentation until surgery was 3–4 h.

Antibiotic duration recommendations in these patients are conflicting. The SIS guidelines recommend 24 h of prophylaxis, whereas, the EAST guidelines recommend 3 days from initial surgery or 1 day from wound closure.[3],[9] Both of our patient groups were managed with the EAST guidelines, and despite a statistically longer duration in our combination group, this did not impact infection rates.

This observational pilot study was done in an attempt to begin to test the hypothesis that cefazolin monotherapy may have similar outcomes to aminoglycoside combination therapy in patients with type III open fractures. The analysis revealed that patients treated with cefazolin monotherapy had significantly lower rates of type III fracture-related infection than those receiving cefazolin plus an aminoglycoside. After controlling for confounding variables, a trend toward higher odds of infection in the combination group persisted although this was no longer significant. The higher incidence of infection with the combination may have been driven by the statistically significant increased risk of developing an MDR infection. Although our study did not account for known resistance risk factors, such as recent antibiotic use or hospitalization, most of our patients were young, healthy males admitted from the community, and did not have a history of MDR infections or colonization.

The limitations to our study should be noted. It was not adequately powered to assess for noninferiority of the cefazolin monotherapy regimen. The retrospective nature of the study increases the likelihood of potential reporting bias, and the lack of randomization allows for possible selection bias. However, these potential biases were at least partially mitigated by controlling for potential confounders.

   Conclusions Top

This retrospective study suggests that the addition of an aminoglycoside to cefazolin may not decrease risk of infection compared to cefazolin alone for prophylaxis of type III open fractures. The addition of the aminoglycoside may increase the risk of developing subsequent MDR infections and adverse effects. Randomized controlled trials or large, multicentered, observational studies are necessary to confirm our study's findings, as our results are only hypothesis generating.


The authors would like to thank Dr. Jill Stoltzfus for assisting with the statistical analysis and Rebecca Wilde-Onia for providing patient lists from the trauma database.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Ethical conduct of research

This study was approved by the St. Luke's University Health Network Institutional Review Board. The authors followed applicable EQUATOR Network (http://www.equator-network.org/) guidelines during the conduct of this research project.

   References Top

Gustilo RB, Gruninger RP, Davis T. Classification of type III (severe) open fractures relative to treatment and results. Orthopedics 1987;10:1781-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Gustilo RB, Mendoza RM, Williams DN. Problems in the management of type III (severe) open fractures: A new classification of type III open fractures. J Trauma 1984;24:742-6.  Back to cited text no. 2
Hoff WS, Bonadies JA, Cachecho R, Dorlac WC. East practice management guidelines work group: Update to practice management guidelines for prophylactic antibiotic use in open fractures. J Trauma 2011;70:751-4.  Back to cited text no. 3
von Elm E, Altman DG, Egger M, Pocock SJ, Gøtzsche PC, Vandenbroucke JP, et al. The strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE) statement: Guidelines for reporting observational studies. PLoS Med 2007;4:e296.  Back to cited text no. 4
Magiorakos AP, Srinivasan A, Carey RB, Carmeli Y, Falagas ME, Giske CG, et al. Multidrug-resistant, extensively drug-resistant and pandrug-resistant bacteria: An international expert proposal for interim standard definitions for acquired resistance. Clin Microbiol Infect 2012;18:268-81.  Back to cited text no. 5
Cross WW 3rd, Swiontkowski MF. Treatment principles in the management of open fractures. Indian J Orthop 2008;42:377-86.  Back to cited text no. 6
Bratzler DW, Dellinger EP, Olsen KM, Perl TM, Auwaerter PG, Bolon MK, et al. Clinical practice guidelines for antimicrobial prophylaxis in surgery. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2013;70:195-283.  Back to cited text no. 7
Hospenthal DR, Murray CK, Andersen RC, Bell RB, Calhoun JH, Cancio LC, et al. Guidelines for the prevention of infections associated with combat-related injuries: 2011 update: Endorsed by the infectious diseases society of America and the surgical infection society. J Trauma 2011;71:S210-34.  Back to cited text no. 8
Hauser CJ, Adams CA Jr. Eachempati SR, Council of the Surgical Infection Society. Surgical infection society guideline: Prophylactic antibiotic use in open fractures: An evidence-based guideline. Surg Infect (Larchmt) 2006;7:379-405.  Back to cited text no. 9
Mangram AJ, Horan TC, Pearson ML, Silver LC, Jarvis WR. Guideline for prevention of surgical site infection, 1999. Centers for disease control and prevention (CDC) hospital infection control practices advisory committee. Am J Infect Control 1999;27:97-132.  Back to cited text no. 10
Berrios-Torres SI. Surgical Site Infection (SSI) Toolkit. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2009. P. 33. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/HAI/pdfs/toolkits/SSI_toolkit021710SIBT_revised.pdf. [Last accessed on 2018 Nov 26].  Back to cited text no. 11
Uçkay I, Harbarth S, Peter R, Lew D, Hoffmeyer P, Pittet D, et al. Preventing surgical site infections. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther 2010;8:657-70.  Back to cited text no. 12
Lane JC, Mabvuure NT, Hindocha S, Khan W. Current concepts of prophylactic antibiotics in trauma: A review. Open Orthop J 2012;6:511-7.  Back to cited text no. 13
O'Brien CL, Menon M, Jomha NM. Controversies in the management of open fractures. Open Orthop J 2014;8:178-84.  Back to cited text no. 14
Harley BJ, Beaupre LA, Jones CA, Dulai SK, Weber DW. The effect of time to definitive treatment on the rate of nonunion and infection in open fractures. J Orthop Trauma 2002;16:484-90.  Back to cited text no. 15
Hohmann E, Tetsworth K, Radziejowski MJ, Wiesniewski TF. Comparison of delayed and primary wound closure in the treatment of open tibial fractures. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 2007;127:131-6.  Back to cited text no. 16
Patzakis MJ, Wilkins J. Factors influencing infection rate in open fracture wounds. Clin Orthop Relat Res 1989;243:36-40.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5]

This article has been cited by
1 Ampicillin/sulbactam versus cefazolin plus aminoglycosides for antimicrobial prophylaxis in management of Gustilo type IIIA open fractures: a retrospective cohort study
Shunsuke Takahara, Takeo Tokura, Ryota Nishida, Atsuo Uefuji, Katsuhito Ichimura, Hirotaka Nishihara, Kenji Aoki, Hiroyuki Takayama, Natsuko Nakagawa, Toshihiko Harada
Injury. 2022;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Surgical Infection Society Guidelines: 2022 Updated Guidelines for Antibiotic Use in Open Extremity Fractures
Sara A. Buckman, Joseph D. Forrester, Kovi E. Bessoff, Sara E. Parli, Heather L. Evans, Jared M. Huston
Surgical Infections. 2022; 23(9): 817
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Evaluation of Piperacillin-Tazobactam for Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Traumatic Grade III Open Fractures
Casey R. OśConnell,Kirstin J. Kooda,Mark D. Sawyer,Kevin B. Wise,Kristin C. Mara,Lee P. Skrupky
Surgical Infections. 2021;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Gram-Negative Antibiotic Coverage in Gustilo-Anderson Type-III Open Fractures
Thomas L. Hand,Elizabeth O. Hand,Amber Welborn,Boris A. Zelle
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2020; 102(16): 1468
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
5 Surgical Management of Open Fractures: The Right Time to Operate
Bradley Stephenson
JBJS Journal of Orthopaedics for Physician Assistants. 2020; 8(4): e20.00017
[Pubmed] | [DOI]


    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

  In this article
   Subjects and Methods
    Article Figures
    Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded97    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 5    

Recommend this journal