Prophylactic antibiotics in the treatment of penetrating chest wounds. A prospective double-blind study

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1977 Oct;74(4):528-36.


Considerable controversy exists as to whether or not antibiotics should be administered "prophylactically" to patients with penetrating chest trauma. No prospective study of this problem has been reported. Therefore, 75 patients with isolated, penetrating chest injury were randomized prospectively in a double-blind study. Group A patients (38 patients) were given 300 mg. of clindamycin phosphate every 6 hours, beginning with admission and lasting until 1 day following chest tube removal or for 5 days, whichever was shorter. Group B patients (37 patients) were given a placebo on the same schedule. The patients' hospital course, fever, white blood count, culture data, and roentgenograms were recorded serially. Clindamycin-treated patients had a significantly lower incidence of radiographic pneumonia, less fever, and a lower incidence of positive pleural and wound cultures. They acquired empyema less frequently, required fewer operations, and had a shorter period of hospitalization. Antibiotics may be useful, therefore, as adjunctive therapy in the management of penetrating chest trauma.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Clindamycin / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fever
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pleural Effusion
  • Thoracic Injuries / complications*
  • Thoracic Injuries / drug therapy
  • Thoracic Injuries / surgery
  • Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / complications*
  • Wounds, Penetrating / drug therapy
  • Wounds, Penetrating / surgery


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Clindamycin