The Chitranjan Ranawat Award: Should prophylactic antibiotics be withheld before revision surgery to obtain appropriate cultures?

Matthew W Tetreault, Nathan G Wetters, Vinay Aggarwal, Michael Mont, Javad Parvizi, Craig J Della Valle
Clinical Orthopaedics and related Research 2014, 472 (1): 52-6

BACKGROUND: Preoperative antibiotics are known to be critical for decreasing the risk of periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) in primary THA and TKA. However, antibiotics often are withheld before revision surgery, as there is concern that even a single dose of prophylactic antibiotics may affect intraoperative cultures.

QUESTIONS/PURPOSES: In this prospective randomized controlled trial, we determined the effect of a single dose of prophylactic antibiotics on cultures obtained at the time of revision arthroplasty.

METHODS: We randomized 65 patients with known PJI after 37 TKAs and 28 THAs at three centers. Patients were included in the trial if they had a culture-positive aspiration and had not taken antibiotics within 2 weeks of the procedure. Patients were randomized to receive prophylactic antibiotics either before the skin incision or after a minimum of three sets of intraoperative cultures were obtained. Preoperative and intraoperative cultures were then compared. Results between patients who did and did not receive antibiotics were compared using an equivalence test for proportion differences (two one-sided t-tests [TOST]) with a 0.2 margin.

RESULTS: Intraoperative cultures yielded the same organisms as preoperative cultures in 28 of 34 patients (82%) randomized to receive antibiotics before the skin incision compared to 25 of 31 patients (81%) randomized to receive antibiotics after obtaining operative cultures (statistically equivalent by TOST estimate: p = 0.0290).

CONCLUSIONS: In this randomized controlled trial, there was no effect on the results of cultures obtained intraoperatively when prophylactic antibiotics were administered before skin incision. Given the known benefits of prophylactic antibiotics in preventing PJI, preoperative prophylaxis should not be withheld in revision surgery for fear of affecting cultures.

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