Penicillin allergies are reported by 8% to 15% of the US population, but up to 95% of these allergies do not correspond to a true allergy when tested. Recent studies have demonstrated that having a penicillin allergy label (PAL) results in a 50% increased odds of surgical site infection among patients reporting a penicillin allergy entirely attributable to the use of a beta-lactam alternative antibiotic (primarily clindamycin or vancomycin). This study provides a review of the prevalence of PAL, the cross-reactivity with cefazolin, immunogenic components of cefazolin and penicillin, and current guidelines for preoperative antibiotic selection in patients with PALs. On understanding these principles, a new set of guidelines and a risk stratification tool are proposed for assessing allergies and determining appropriate antibiotic choice, dosage, and timing in the orthopaedic preoperative setting.
Copyright © 2021 by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.