Prophylactic parenteral antibiotics in clean neurosurgical procedures: A review

R. Dempsey, R. P. Rapp, B. Young, S. Johnston, P. Tibbs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Clean surgical procedures carry a risk of postoperative wound infection that is less than 5% in most hospitals. The use of prophylactic antibiotic agents in clean neurosurgical cases is controversial, and the neurosurgical literature through 1980 contains no controlled clinical trials to study its effectiveness in such cases. A report of 1732 consecutive procedures without a single postoperative wound infection in patients receiving systemic gentamicin, vancomycin, and streptomycin irrigation fluids is often quoted by neurosurgeons; however, these results have not yet been duplicated by others. Since 1980, there have been several controlled trials that support the use in clean neurosurgical cases of prophylactic antibiotics, including the vancomycin/gentamicin/streptomycin regimen and the first-generation cephalosporins. A report in 1986 of 1602 cases without a primary wound infection supports the use of a single perioperative dose of cefazolin. A review of causative organisms in postoperative wound infections demonstrates the preponderance of Gram-positive pathogens. Therefore, when antibiotic prophylaxis is indicated, adequate Gram-positive bacterial coverage, including protection against Staphylococcus infection, is required. With consideration of the present data, the cost of antibiotic therapy, and the danger of drug toxicity, a short perioperative regimen of cefazolin as prophylaxis is preferred in clean neurosurgical cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-57
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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