Background: A single preoperative prophylactic dose of an intravenous antibiotic with antistaphylococcal activity is standard of care for breast and axillary surgical procedures. Some surgeons also prescribe postoperative prophylaxis for all patients with drains to prevent infection despite its lack of proven efficacy. Methods: A retrospective chart review of patients with breast and/or axillary surgical procedures between July 2004 and June 2006 were included. Data were collected on patient demographics, procedure types, and use of prophylactic antibiotics. Surgical site infection (SSI) was defined by means of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, including patients meeting the physician diagnosis criterion if an antibiotic was prescribed for a clinical diagnosis of cellulitis. χ2 and Fisher's exact tests were used to compare SSI rates. Results: Three hundred fifty-three patients with 436 surgical sites who received either preoperative or both pre- and postoperative antibiotic were analyzed. Overall, the SSI rate was 7.8% (34 of 436 surgical sites). Eighty-five patients (24%) with 127 surgical sites were provided both preoperative and postoperative prophylactic antibiotics. The SSI rates did not differ statistically (P = .67) for the groups that did (95% confidence interval, 4.8-15.0; 11 of 127 surgical sites, 8.7%) and did not receive postoperative antibiotic prophylaxis (95% confidence interval, 5.0-11.0; 23 of 309, 7.4%). Conclusions: Although the overall number of patients who developed SSI was relatively small, there was no reduction in the SSI rate among those who received postoperative antibiotic prophylaxis. Because of the potential adverse events associated with antibiotic use, further evaluation of this practice is required.
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