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A systematic review was conducted on 30 December 2014 to determine whether prophylactic antibiotics reduce the risk of superficial infection and osteomyelitis following open distal phalanx fractures. Four randomized controlled trials (353 fractures) were suitable for meta-analysis. There was no statistically significant difference between rates of superficial infection in the two groups. This finding persisted when only the two most recent and highest quality trials were included. There were no reported cases of osteomyelitis in the pooled dataset, despite patients with 164 fractures not receiving antibiotics. These results fail to show any effect of prophylactic antibiotics on the rate of superficial infections following open distal phalanx fractures. The focus of treatment should be on prompt irrigation and debridement rather than administration of prophylactic antibiotics.

Original publication




Journal article


J hand surg eur vol

Publication Date





423 - 430


Distal phalanx, antibiotics, open fracture, Antibiotic Prophylaxis, Finger Phalanges, Fractures, Open, Humans, Osteomyelitis, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Surgical Wound Infection