A prospective study on infectious complications in orthognathic surgery

J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2005 Feb;33(1):24-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jcms.2004.06.008. Epub 2005 Jan 12.


Aim: According to an earlier study in 2000, 4.7% of patients undergoing corrective facial orthopaedic surgery in this unit suffered a postoperative wound infection. In 1998, the Belgian Government recommended stricter rules for infection prophylaxis and a new antibiotic protocol similar to that proposed by Peterson (1990) was implemented in this unit. The new protocol was to be evaluated.

Material and methods: Eight hundred and ten consecutive patients were selected receiving orthognathic surgery (Le Fort I-type osteotomies, sagittal split osteotomies, segmental and chin osteotomies). Cefazolin 1g was administered intravenously on induction of general anaesthesia and repeated at 4h intervals for the duration of surgery. No antibiotics were administered postoperatively. The observation period was 6 weeks. When an infection occurred, appropriate culture specimens were obtained according to a standardized protocol.

Results: Fifty-one infections (6.8%) were diagnosed, 33 with purulent exudates occurring spontaneously or after incision and drainage. Ninety-two per cent of these infections occurred in the sagittal split area, 6% in the maxillary region and 2% in the chin region. Infections in the sagittal split area were further analysed. A reduction in infection rate from 6.6 to 2.6% was noted following a change in practice when fibrin glue was used in the wound instead of a drain in the sagittal split wound. Of the 30 aerobic cultures, 12 contained normal mucosal flora, of which 9 were Streptococcus species. In 11 of the 30 anaerobic cultures the identified species belonged to the Bacteroides group. This bacterium is resistant to cefazolin but sensitive to amoxicillin-clavulanate and for a high percentage also to clindamycin. All the other cultures were sterile.

Conclusion: The infections occurring almost exclusively in the sagittal split osteotomy site can be partially explained by wound contamination upon removal of the drain. It is suggested that for prophylaxis cefazolin is replaced by amoxicillin-clavulanate.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oral Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Osteotomy / adverse effects*
  • Osteotomy, Le Fort / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surgical Wound Infection / diagnosis
  • Surgical Wound Infection / drug therapy
  • Surgical Wound Infection / etiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents