Objective: To determine whether presumptive antibiotics reduce the risk of empyema or pneumonia following tube thoracostomy for traumatic hemopneumothorax.
Methods: A prospective, randomized, double-blind trial was performed comparing the use of cefazolin for duration of tube thoracostomy placement (Group A) versus 24 hours (Group B) versus placebo (Group C).
Results: A total of 224 patients received 229 tube thoracostomies. Logistic regression analysis revealed that duration of tube placement and thoracic acute injury score were predictive of empyema (p <0.05). Empyema tended to occur more frequently in patients with penetrating injuries (p=0.09). chi analysis showed pneumonia occurred significantly more frequently in blunt than penetrating injuries (p <0.05). Presumptive antibiotic use did not significantly effect the incidence of empyema or pneumonia, although no empyemas occurred in Group A.
Conclusions: The incidence of empyema was low and the use of presumptive antibiotics did not appear to reduce the risk of empyema or pneumonia.