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Wachtel, Nikolaus; Meyer, Emanuel; Volkmer, Elias; Knie, Nina; Lukas, Bernhard; Giunta, Riccardo; Demmer, Wolfram (2023): Efficacy of perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis in elective soft-tissue-only wrist arthroscopy. Bone & Joint Open, 4 (4). pp. 219-225. ISSN 2633-1462

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Wrist arthroscopy is a standard procedure in hand surgery for diagnosis and treatment of wrist injuries. Even though not generally recommended for similar procedures, general administration of perioperative antibiotic prophylaxis (PAP) is still widely used in wrist arthroscopy.

A clinical ambispective dual-centre study was performed to determine whether PAP reduces postoperative infection rates after soft tissue-only wrist arthroscopies. Retrospective and prospective data was collected at two hospitals with departments specialized in hand surgery. During the study period, 464 wrist arthroscopies were performed, of these 178 soft-tissue-only interventions met the study criteria and were included. Signs of postoperative infection and possible adverse drug effects (ADEs) of PAP were monitored. Additionally, risk factors for surgical site infection (SSIs), such as diabetes mellitus and BMI, were obtained.

The overall infection rate of SSI was zero. Neither in the PAP group (n = 69) nor in the control group (n = 109) were signs of postoperative infection observed. Observed symptoms of ADEs were three-times higher in the PAP group when compared to the control-group (16.3 vs 5.5%; p = 0.043). No major ADEs were observed, but one in ten patients in the PAP group reported mild to severe intestinal or hypersensitivity symptoms.

We demonstrate that the number needed to treat (NNT) with PAP to prevent one postoperative infection in soft-tissue arthroscopies of the wrist is > 109. Conversely, symptoms of ADEs were reported by one out of ten patients given PAP. Considering the high NNT to prevent postoperative infection and the large number of ADEs caused by PAP, we recommend not to use PAP routinely in soft-tissue arthroscopies of the wrist. Subsequent large-scale studies should be conducted to substantiate these results.

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