The effect of timing of antibiotic delivery on infection rates related to open limb fractures: a systematic review

Michael Whitehouse, Catriona McDaid, Michael Kelly, Christopher Moran, Matthew Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: To examine whether the timing of delivery of intravenous antibiotics following open limb fractures has an effect on deep infection rates and other outcomes.

Design: We published an a priori study protocol in PROSPERO. Our search strategy combined terms for antibiotics, timing of administration and fractures. Two independent reviewers screened, selected, assessed quality and extracted data from identified studies.

Data sources: We searched five electronic databases with no limits and performed grey literature searches.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: Randomised, non-randomised controlled studies, prospective and retrospective observational studies in which the effect of the timing of delivery of antibiotics on the outcome of deep infection in open fractures was considered were included.

Results: Eight studies were included according to the above criteria. There were no randomised or non-randomised controlled trials. None of the included studies provided data on patient reported or health related quality of life. The overall deep infection rate ranged from 5-17.5%. All of the studies were at substantial risk of bias. One study reported a reduced infection rate with the delivery of antibiotics within 66 minutes of injury and seven studies reporting no effect.

Conclusions: There is not currently sufficiently robust evidence available to determine whether the timing of delivery of intravenous antibiotics has an effect on the risk of deep infection or other outcomes following open limb fractures. There is therefore a need for a randomised controlled trial in this area before policy changes should be instigated.

Review registration number: PROSPERO (CRD42015016729)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)613-620
Number of pages9
JournalEmergency Medicine Journal
Issue number9
Early online date15 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


Structured keywords

  • Centre for Surgical Research


  • Open fracture
  • Lower extremity
  • Wounds and injuries
  • Antibiotics
  • Early medical intervention

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