Utilization of Prophylactic Antibiotics After Nasal Packing for Epistaxis

J Emerg Med. 2021 Feb;60(2):144-149. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2020.10.011. Epub 2020 Nov 7.


Background: There have been few investigations examining the benefits, consequences, and patterns of use for prophylactic antibiotics for nasal packing in the emergency department setting. Given the frequency of epistaxis in the emergency department, it is an ideal setting to study the efficacy and utilization patterns of prophylactic antibiotics in nasal packing.

Objective: Our aim was to assess both rates of utilization and evidence of benefit for prophylactic antibiotics in patients with nasal packing for epistaxis.

Methods: A single-institution retrospective review of 275 cases of anterior nasal packing in an urban emergency department between September 2013 and April 2017 was performed. Chi-square statistical analysis was used to evaluate results.

Results: Among 275 cases studied, there were no instances of toxic shock syndrome. Roughly 73% of patients with nonabsorbable packing received prophylactic antibiotics. Only one (1.1%) case of sinusitis was noted among the nonabsorbable packing with prophylaxis group, with no such complication in the nonprophylaxis group. In contrast, 95% of patients with absorbable nasal packing were not given prophylactic antibiotics. Analysis of all cases given prophylactic antibiotics vs. no prophylaxis, regardless of packing type, revealed no statistically significant difference in the development of acute sinusitis (1% vs. 0.56%; p = 0.6793).

Conclusions: There was no observed advantage or disadvantage to using prophylactic antibiotics in anterior nasal packing in the emergency department, regardless of whether patients received absorbable or nonabsorbable packing. However, patients who receive nonabsorbable nasal packing were more likely to receive antibiotic prophylaxis.

Keywords: acute sinusitis; epistaxis; nasal packing; prophylactic antibiotics; toxic shock syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Epistaxis* / drug therapy
  • Epistaxis* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sinusitis* / complications


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents