Background: The reported incidence of surgical site infection after abdominal surgery in morbidly obese patients is high (about 15% in most studies), and this is associated with considerable disability and an increased economic burden. Topical antibiotics may reduce the incidence of serious infections.
Methods: Standard techniques for the prevention of surgical site infections were used along with the introduction of kanamycin into the subcutaneous space of morbidly obese patients at the time of closure and allowing it to dwell for 2 h. Eight hundred thirty-seven evaluable patients were followed for the development of site complications for at least six weeks postoperatively.
Results: One of the 65 patients with a revisional procedure had a primary deep incisional surgical site infection, as did one of the 772 patients with a primary operation. Secondary deep incisional surgical site infections occurred in four patients, two after spontaneous evacuation of a seroma, one from excessive superficial contamination, and one following separation of a nonhealing surgical site. Additionally, 21 patients had minor surgical site complications including incisional separation and stitch-related infections, which required no significant expenditure of resources.
Conclusions: Prolonged contact (2 h) of topical kanamycin solution with the surgical site greatly reduces the incidence of primary infections in the deep subcutaneous space of laparotomy sites in morbidly obese patients.