Prophylactic antibiotics in chest trauma: a meta-analysis of high-quality studies

World J Surg. 2006 Oct;30(10):1843-7. doi: 10.1007/s00268-005-0672-y.


Background: Use of antibiotics in patients with isolated chest trauma is controversial. Available studies offer contradictory results because of small sample sizes. However, information provided by recent randomized controlled trials (RCT) included in a systematic review and meta-analysis could help solve the controversy. We performed a systematic review using high-quality information related to the use of antibiotics in patients with a chest tube.

Methods: We developed a systematic review to evaluate the effectiveness of prophylactic antibiotics in chest-trauma patients. Studies included were class I RCT comparing prophylactic antibiotics versus placebo in patients with isolated chest trauma. Main outcomes were posttraumatic empyema and pneumonia.

Results: Five Class I studies were selected. There were statistically significant differences regarding the frequency of posttraumatic empyema (RR 0.19) and pneumonia (RR 0.44) in favor of the use of prophylactic antibiotics when compared with placebo.

Conclusions: The use of prophylactic antibiotics in patients with chest trauma decreases the incidence of posttraumatic empyema and pneumonia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Empyema, Pleural / etiology
  • Empyema, Pleural / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Pneumonia / etiology
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / etiology
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / prevention & control*
  • Thoracic Injuries / complications*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents