, Volume 470, Issue 10, pp 2702-2707

Does Dual Antibiotic Prophylaxis Better Prevent Surgical Site Infections in Total Joint Arthroplasty?

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It is unclear which antibiotic regimen provides the best prophylaxis against surgical site infection (SSI) in patients undergoing hip and knee surgery.


Therefore, we determined whether dual antibiotic prophylaxis (1) reduced the rate of SSI compared to single antibiotic prophylaxis and (2) altered the microbiology of SSI.


We retrospectively reviewed 1828 primary THAs and TKAs performed between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2010. We divided patients into two groups: (1) those who received a dual prophylactic antibiotic regimen of cefazolin and vancomycin (unless allergy), or (2) received cefazolin (unless allergy) as the sole prophylactic antibiotic. There were 701 males and 1127 females with an average age of 56 years (range, 15–97 years). We limited followup to 1 year, presuming subsequent infections were not related to the initial surgery.


During this period, there were 22 SSIs (1.2%). The infection rates for dual antibiotic prophylaxis compared to a single antibiotic regimen were 1.1% and 1.4%, respectively. Of 1328 patients treated with dual antibiotic prophylaxis, only one (0.08%) SSI was culture positive for methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), while four of 500 patients (0.8%) receiving only cefazolin prophylaxis had culture positive MRSA infection at the time of reoperation.


The addition of vancomycin as a prophylactic antibiotic agent apparently did not reduce the rate of SSI compared to cefazolin alone. Use of vancomycin in addition to cefazolin appeared to reduce the incidence of MRSA infections; however, the number needed to treat to prevent a single MRSA infection was very high.

Level of Evidence

Level III, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

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