Preoperative and intraoperative antibiotic prophylaxis of infection in peripheral vascular surgery has been widely used although controlled studies have been lacking. A randomized, a prospective, double-blind study of cefazolin versus placebo during 565 arterial reconstructive operations was performed at this hospital from February 1976 through August 1977. Among the 462 patients undergoing surgery of the abdominal aorta and lower extremity vasculature, there was a highly significant difference in the infection rates: 6.8% for placebo recipients versus 0.9% for cefazolin recipients (p less than .001). Of the 18 infections, four involved vascular grafts and all four graft infections occurred in the placebo group. Over 8% of abdominal wounds of patients receiving placebo became infected versus 1.2% of cefazolin patients (p less than .05). Groin wounds were infected infrequently, 1.1% for placebo patients versus none for cefazolin patients. No infections occurred among 103 brachiocephalic procedures. Skin antisepsis was analyzed retrospectively. Infection rates were significantly higher (p less than .01) following hexachlorophene-ethanol versus a povidone-iodine skin preparation. Adverse effects of cefazolin were carefully monitored: no rash, phlebitis, or emergence of resistant strains was observed. A breif perioperative course of cefazolin and povidone-iodine skin antisepsis are recommended in vascular reconstructive surgery of the abdominal aorta and lower extremity vasculature.
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