Use of Single Agent Cefotetan for Gustilo-Anderson Type III Open Fracture Prophylaxis

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The prophylactic intravenous antibiotic regimen for Gustilo-Anderson Type III open fractures traditionally consists of cefazolin with an aminoglycoside plus penicillin for gross contamination. Cefotetan, a second-generation cephalosporin, offers a wide spectrum of activity against both aerobes and anaerobes as well as against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. Cefotetan has not been previously established within orthopedic surgery as a prophylactic intravenous agent.

Patients and Methods

Cefotetan monotherapeutic prophylaxis versus any other antibiotic regimen (standard/literature-supported and otherwise) was studied for patient encounters between September 2010 and December 2019 within a single Level 1 regional trauma center. Patient comorbidities, preoperative fracture characteristics, and in-hospital/operative metrics (including length of stay [LOS], number of antibiotic doses, and antibiotic costs [US$]) were included for analysis. Postoperative outcomes up to 1 year included rates of surgical site infection (SSI), deep infection necessitating return to the operating room (OR), non-union, prescribed outpatient antibiotics, hospital readmissions, and related returns to the emergency department (ED). Sensitivity analyses were also conducted to include standard/literature-supported antibiotic regimens as a nested random factor within the non-cefotetan cohort.


The nested variable accounting for standard/literature-supported antibiotic regimens had no significant effect in any model for any outcome (for each, P ≥ 0.302).

Thus, 1-year data for 138 Type III open fractures were included, accounting for only the binary effect of cefotetan (n = 42) versus non-cefotetan cohorts. The cohorts did not differ significantly at baseline. The cefotetan cohort received fewer in-house dose/day antibiotics (P < 0.001), was less likely to receive outpatient antibiotics in the following year (P = 0.023), had decreased return to the OR (35.7% versus 54.2%, P = 0.045), and demonstrated non-union rates of 16.7% versus 28.1% (P = 0.151). When adjusted for length of stay (LOS), the dose/day total costs for antibiotics were $8.71/day more expensive for the cefotetan cohort (P = 0.002). Type III open fractures incurred overall rates of SSI reaching 16.7% in the cefotetan cohort and 14.7% for non-cefotetan (P = 0.773). Deep infections necessitating return to the OR were 9.5% and 11.6%, respectively (P = 0.719).


Cefotetan alone may provide superior antibiotic stewardship with similar infectious sequalae compared to more traditional antibiotic prophylaxis regimens for Gustilo-Anderson Type III open long bone fractures.



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