Current Concepts of Prophylactic Antibiotics in Trauma: A Review

Jennifer CE Lane§, 1, Nigel Tapiwa Mabvuure§, 2, Sandip Hindocha*, 3, Wasim Khan 4
1 Department of Plastic Surgery, Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH, UK
2 Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, BN25XL, UK
3 Department of Plastic Surgery, Whiston Hospital, Warrington Road, L355DR, UK
4 University College London Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex, HA74LP, UK

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© Lane et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Plastic Surgery, Whiston Hospital, Warrington Road, L355DR, UK; Tel: + 44(0)1244366265; Fax: +44(0)1244366265; E-mail:
§ JCEL and NTM contributed equally.


Traumatic injuries cause 5.8 million deaths per year globally. Before the advent of antibiotics, sepsis was considered almost inevitable after injury. Today infection continues to be a common complication after traumatic injury and is associated with increases in morbidity and mortality and longer hospital stays. Research into the prevention of post-traumatic infection has predominantly focused on thoracic and abdominal injuries. In addition, because research on sepsis following musculoskeletal injuries has predominantly been on open fractures. There is a paucity of research into the prevention of soft tissue infections following traumatic injuries. This review analyses the evidence for the role of prophylactic antibiotics in the management of soft tissue injuries. Emphasis is placed on assessing the strength of the presented evidence according to the Oxford Level of Evidence scale.

Keywords: Antibiotic, fracture, infection, prophylaxis, soft tissue, trauma.