Ampicillin/sulbactam versus cefazolin plus aminoglycosides for antimicrobial prophylaxis in management of Gustilo type IIIA open fractures: A retrospective cohort study

Published:January 20, 2022DOI:


      • ABPC/SBT monotherapy was not inferior to cefazolin plus aminoglycoside as antimicrobial prophylaxis for Gustilo type IIIA open fractures.
      • Patient characteristics, time from admission to antibiotic administration, duration of antibiotic therapy, and process of osteosynthesis were not significantly different.
      • The ABPC/SBT regimen may be an alternative option for managing Gustilo type IIIA open fractures.
      • The small sample size and retrospective design are major study limitations, and a prospective multicenter randomized control trial is needed.



      The antibiotic regimens for prophylaxis in the management of open fractures remain controversial. Although the use of aminoglycosides is widely accepted for treatment of Gustilo type III open fractures, aminoglycosides are often avoided in patients with risk factors. This study aimed to compare efficacy and safety of two regimens, cephazolin plus aminoglycoside (amikacin or gentamicin) and ampicillin/sulbactam (ABPC/SBT), in patients with Gustilo type IIIA open fractures.


      A total of 95 Gustilo type IIIA fractures in 90 patients were retrospectively reviewed in this study. The cohort was categorized into two groups that were treated in accordance with the institutional prescribed regimen in different periods: (1) cefazolin plus aminoglycoside (January 1, 2014–September 30, 2017) and (2) ABPC/SBT monotherapy (October 1, 2017–September 30, 2020). Cefazolin was used at 1–2 g every 8 h, aminoglycoside (amikacin or gentamicin) was used daily depending on body weight, and ABPC/SBT was used at 3 g every 8 h The antibiotic administration was continued within 3 days or until successful soft tissue coverage was achieved. The infection rate and the incidence of acute kidney injury (AKI) in both groups were assessed.


      ABPC/SBT was used in 34 patients (36 fractures), and 56 patients (59 fractures) received cefazolin plus aminoglycoside for antibiotic prophylaxis. Infection developed in 2 of 36 fractures in ABPC/SBT group and 4 of 59 fractures in the cefazolin plus aminoglycoside group (p > 0.99). The average serum creatinine levels on admission, baseline, and peak during the hospital stay were not significantly different between the two groups. One case of AKI was identified in each group, indicating that incidence rate of AKI was not significantly different between the two groups.


      We demonstrated the non-inferiority of ABPC/SBT therapy over cefazolin plus aminoglycoside regimen for type IIIA open fractures. The ABPC/SBT regimen may be an alternative option for managing Gustilo type IIIA open fractures. Further prospective studies with larger samples are needed to verify these results.


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