Objective: To determine risk factors for intracranial infection secondary to penetrating craniocerebral gunshot wounds (PCGWs) in civilian practice, in patients who underwent surgery with removal of bullet fragments, wound debridement, and watertight dural closure.
Methods: An observational, analytical, prospective, cohort-type study was conducted with follow-up in a group of patients with PCGWs caused by a low-velocity projectile admitted between January 2000 and November 2010. There were 160 patients, 59 of whom were administered prophylactic antibiotics based on the decision of the treating neurosurgeon. Average follow-up time was 39 months (range, 3-92 months).
Results: Infection occurred in 40 patients (25%); 20 patients received antibiotics (20 of 59 [33.9%]), and 20 patients did not receive antibiotics (20 of 101 [19.8%]). Three variables were independent risk factors for infection: (i) persistence of parenchymal osseous or metallic fragments after surgery (P < 0.0001, relative risk [RR] 7.45); (ii) projectile trajectory through a natural cavity with contaminating flora (P = 0.03, RR 2.84); and (iii) prolonged hospitalization time (P < 0.0001, RR 3.695).
Conclusions: Administration of prophylactic antibiotics was not associated with the incidence of intracranial infection secondary to PCGWs. Projectile trajectory through potentially contaminating cavities, persistence of intraparenchymal osseous or metallic fragments after surgery, and prolonged hospital stay were independent risk factors for intracranial infection.
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