Antibiotic Prophylaxis and Infectious Complications in Isolated Gunshot Wounds to the Upper Extremity

Danielle J. Brown, Rachael M. Payne, Amelia C. Van Handel, Kevin G. Shim, Damini Tandon, David Chi, Adam G. Evans, Mitchell A. Pet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Prophylactic antibiotics are variably prescribed after isolated upper extremity gunshot wounds (UE GSWs). The risk of infection and factors influencing prescribing practice remain poorly understood, and clinical practice guidelines are lacking. Methods: Adults with isolated UE GSWs over a 10-year period were included. Medical records were reviewed for demographic and injury variables, comorbidities, surgical treatments, antibiotic administration, infectious complications, and follow-up duration. Infection rate was calculated. Bivariate and multivariable linear regression analyses were used to identify patient-related and injury-related factors predictive of prophylactic antibiotic prescription. Results: A total of 281 patients were eligible for inclusion. Prophylactic antibiotics were prescribed at discharge for 111 patients (40%). Multivariable analysis revealed that patients with more distal injuries and ballistic fractures were significantly more likely to receive prophylactic antibiotics. Of patients with at least 30-day postinjury follow-up, 6% developed infections. Conclusion: Prophylactic antibiotic administration after UE GSWs was inconsistent but more common in patients with ballistic fractures and injuries in the hand. The overall incidence of infection was found to lie between 3% and 6%. The rate of infection in the antibiotic prophylaxis (2%-6%) group was similar to that in the no-antibiotic (5%-7%) group, suggesting that antibiotic prophylaxis may not have a large impact on infectious risk. However, because this study is nonrandomized, and because this study is underpowered for multivariable modeling of infectious risk, it remains possible that subgroups of this population may still benefit from antibiotic prophylaxis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-593
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • anatomy
  • diagnosis
  • hand
  • infection
  • open fractures
  • specialty
  • surgery
  • trauma


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