JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Facing the facts on prophylactic antibiotics for facial fractures: 1 day or less.

BACKGROUND: To evaluate the role of initial prophylactic antibiotics on facial fractures, outcomes were compared between a short course (≤24 hours) of antibiotics to those who received an extended course (>24 hours).

METHODS: Adults admitted (2010-2015) to a Level I trauma center intensive care unit with at least one facial bone fracture and major injuries isolated to the head and neck were included. Our primary analysis compared infectious complications of the head or neck (H/N infection) between patients given short or extended courses of antibiotic prophylaxis. Multivariate logistic regression and analysis of propensity score matched pairs were performed.

RESULTS: A total of 403 patients were included, 85.6% had blunt injuries and 72.7% had their facial fracture managed nonoperatively. The H/N infection rate was 11.2%. Two hundred eighty patients received a short course of antibiotics and 123 patients received an extended course. Median Injury Severity Score was 14 in both groups (p = 0.78). Patients receiving an extended course of antibiotics had higher rates of H/N infection (20.3% vs. 7.1%, p < 0.001). Factors associated with development of H/N infection included younger age, penetrating injury, open fracture, upper face or mandible fracture, fractures in multiple facial thirds, vascular injury, hypertension, and extended antibiotic course. Multivariate logistic regression identified younger age (odds ratio [OR], 0.98; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.96-1.00; p = 0.02), multiple facial third fractures (OR, 4.9; 95% CI, 2.4-10.2; p < 0.001), and penetrating mechanism (OR, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.5-6.4; p = 0.003) as independent predictors of H/N infection, but not antibiotic duration. Propensity score-matched analysis found no differences in H/N infection between short and extended antibiotic courses (11.4% vs. 12.5%; p = 1.0). Subgroup analyses demonstrated no differences in H/N infection between short or extended antibiotic courses by injury pattern, mechanism, or treatment (operative or nonoperative).

CONCLUSION: These results lead us to believe that we should limit antibiotics to 24 hours or less upon admission for facial fractures.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic/care management, level IV.

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