Do prophylactic antibiotics in gynecologic surgery prevent postoperative inflammatory complications? A systematic review

Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2017 Jun;295(6):1383-1391. doi: 10.1007/s00404-017-4382-0. Epub 2017 May 2.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on antibiotic prophylaxis in gynaecologic surgeries to prevent inflammatory complications after gynaecological operations. The study was carried out as a systematic review.

Methods: Only randomised controlled trials of women undergoing gynaecological surgery were included. The Medline and the Cochrane library databases were searched from 1966 to 2016. The trials must have investigated an antibiotic intervention to prevent an inflammatory complication after gynaecological surgery. Trials were excluded if they were not randomised, uncontrolled or included obstetrical surgery.

Results: Prophylactic antibiotics prevent inflammatory complications after gynaecological surgery. Prophylactic antibiotics are more effective in surgery requiring access to the peritoneal cavity or the vagina. Cefotetan appears to be more capable in preventing the overall inflammatory complication rate than cefoxitin or cefazolin. No benefit has been shown for the combination of antibiotics as prophylaxis. No difference has been shown between the long-term and short-term use of antibiotics. There is no need for the primary use of an anaerobic antibacterial agent.

Conclusion: Antibiotics help to prevent postoperative inflammatory complications after major gynecologic surgeries.

Keywords: Antibiotic; Gynecology; Prophylaxis; Surgery; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Female
  • Gynecologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents