Objective: To estimate whether prophylactic antibiotics at the time of repair of third- or fourth-degree perineal tears after vaginal delivery prevent wound infection and breakdown.
Methods: This was a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study. Patients who sustained third- or fourth-degree perineal tears after a vaginal delivery were recruited for the study. Each patient was given a single intravenous dose of a second-generation cephalosporin (cefotetan or cefoxitin) or placebo before repair of third- or fourth-degree perineal tears. Obstetricians and patients were blinded to study drug. The perineum was inspected for evidence of infection or breakdown at discharge from the hospital and at 2 weeks postpartum. Primary end points were gross disruption or purulent discharge at site of perineal repair by 2 weeks postpartum.
Results: One hundred forty-seven patients were recruited for the study. Of these, 83 patients received placebo and 64 patients received antibiotics. Forty patients (27.2%) did not return for their 2-week appointment. Of the patients seen at 2 weeks postpartum, 4 of 49 (8.2%) patients who received antibiotics and 14 of 58 (24.1%) patients who received placebo developed a perineal wound complication (P=.037). There were no differences between groups in parity, incidence of diabetes, operative delivery, or third-degree compared with fourth-degree lacerations.
Conclusion: By 2 weeks postpartum, patients who received prophylactic antibiotics at the time of third- or fourth-degree laceration repair had a lower rate of perineal wound complications than patients who received placebo.
Clinical trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, www.clincaltrials.gov, NCT00186082.
Level of evidence: I.