Local Injection of Aminoglycosides for Prophylaxis Against Infection in Open Fractures

J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2015 Nov 18;97(22):1844-51. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.O.00072.


Background: The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of local wound cavity injections of aqueous aminoglycosides (gentamicin and tobramycin), in conjunction with systemic antibiotics, to lower the prevalence of infection in patients with open fractures.

Methods: Three hundred and fifty-one open fractures were identified by Current Procedural Terminology codes 11011 and 11012. Data on patient demographic characteristics, injury characteristics, infection, and fracture union were obtained from the electronic medical records. Patients in the control group (183 fractures) received systemic antibiotics only. Patients in the intervention group (168 fractures) received, in addition to systemic antibiotics, a locally administered aminoglycoside (2 mg/mL) at the time of the index surgical procedure. At the discretion of the attending surgeon, some wounds also received postoperative irrigations of aqueous aminoglycoside (n = 34). For wounds that could not be closed and wounds that received postoperative irrigations, negative pressure dressings were used.

Results: The deep and superficial infection rate in the control group was 19.7% (thirty-six of 183 fractures), but it was significantly lower (p = 0.010) in the intervention group at 9.5% (sixteen of 168 fractures). When comparing only the deep infections, the infection rate in the control group was 14.2% (twenty-six of 183 fractures) compared with 6.0% (ten of 168 fractures) in the intervention group (p = 0.011). After multivariate analysis to adjust for possible confounding factors, the administration of local antibiotics was found to be an independent predictor of lower infection rates in both deep and superficial infections (odds ratio, 2.6 [95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 5.6]; p = 0.015) and deep infections only (odds ratio, 3.0 [95% confidence interval, 1.1 to 8.5]; p = 0.034). The use of local antibiotics did not have an impact on nonunion rate (p = 0.881), with a type-I error rate of α = 0.05 and 0.8 power.

Conclusions: This study suggests that local aqueous aminoglycoside administration as an adjunct to systemic antibiotics may be effective in lowering infection rates in open fractures; further research with higher-level research designs are needed.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Fracture Fixation*
  • Fractures, Open / surgery*
  • Gentamicins / administration & dosage*
  • Gentamicins / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intralesional
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Tobramycin / administration & dosage*
  • Tobramycin / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Gentamicins
  • Tobramycin