Effects of maternal obesity on tissue concentrations of prophylactic cefazolin during cesarean delivery

Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Apr;117(4):877-882. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31820b95e4.


Objective: To estimate the adequacy of antimicrobial activity of preoperative antibiotics at the time of cesarean delivery as a function of maternal obesity.

Methods: Twenty-nine patients scheduled for cesarean delivery were stratified according to body mass index (BMI) category, with 10 study participants classified as lean (BMI less than 30), 10 as obese (BMI 30-39.9), and nine as extremely obese (BMI 40 or higher). All patients were given a dose of 2 g cefazolin 30-60 minutes before skin incision. Antibiotic concentrations from adipose samples, collected after skin incision and before skin closure, along with myometrial and serum samples, were analyzed with microbiological agar diffusion assay.

Results: Cefazolin concentrations within adipose tissue obtained at skin incision were inversely proportional to maternal BMI (r=-0.67, P<.001). The mean adipose concentration was 9.4 plus or minus 2.7 micrograms/g in the lean group of women compared with 6.4 plus or minus 2.3 micrograms/g in the obese group (P=.009) and 4.4 plus or minus 1.2 micrograms/g in the extremely obese group (P<.001). Although all specimens demonstrated therapeutic cefazolin levels for gram-positive cocci (greater than 1 microgram/g), a considerable portion of obese and extremely obese did not achieve minimal inhibitory concentrations of greater than 4 micrograms/g for Gram-negative rods in adipose samples at skin incision (20% and 33.3%, respectively) or closure (20.0% and 44.4%, respectively). No significant difference in cefazolin concentration was observed in mean closure adipose, myometrial, or serum specimens across the BMI categories.

Conclusion: Pharmacokinetic analysis suggests that present antibiotic prophylaxis dosing may fail to provide adequate antimicrobial coverage in obese patients during cesarean delivery.

Clinical trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, www.clinicaltrials.gov, NCT00980486.

Level of evidence: II.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity / drug effects
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / methods*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cefazolin / administration & dosage
  • Cefazolin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cesarean Section / adverse effects
  • Cesarean Section / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications
  • Obesity, Morbid / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Cefazolin

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00980486