Tetanus prophylaxis following ocular injuries

J Emerg Med. 1993 Nov-Dec;11(6):677-83. doi: 10.1016/0736-4679(93)90626-i.


The administration of prophylaxis against tetanus following a corneal abrasion is routinely performed in many acute care facilities, despite a lack of support in the literature for its necessity. The risk of developing clinical tetanus from three different types of injuries to the eye was evaluated in an animal model. Clinical tetanus was induced in unimmunized mice by injecting Clostridium tetani organisms or toxin into the anterior chamber. Immunized mice injected intracamerally did not develop signs of tetanus. Tetanus was not induced by topical inoculation of either live organisms or toxin following corneal epithelial debridement or stromal scarification of unimmunized and immunized mice. The results of this study support the administration of prophylaxis against tetanus following perforating ocular injuries. However, our results do not support its routine use following uncomplicated corneal abrasions or other types of nonperforating ocular injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Corneal Injuries*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / classification
  • Eye Injuries, Penetrating / complications*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred Strains
  • Risk Factors
  • Tetanus / etiology*
  • Tetanus / microbiology
  • Tetanus / mortality
  • Tetanus / pathology
  • Tetanus / therapy*
  • Tetanus Antitoxin / therapeutic use*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / therapeutic use


  • Tetanus Antitoxin
  • Tetanus Toxoid