Infection Control With Topical Antimicrobial Prophylaxis for Mucosal Head and Neck Surgery: A Meta-analysis

Jake J. Lee, Stanley Chibueze, Amit Walia, Lauren H. Yaeger, Joseph Zenga, Sidharth V. Puram, Ryan S. Jackson, Patrik Pipkorn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess for differences in surgical site infection (SSI) rates and bacterial load after major mucosal head and neck surgery between patients who received topical antimicrobial prophylaxis and those who did not. Data Sources: Ovid Medline, Embase, SCOPUS, Cochrane Library, and from inception to May 20, 2021, with cross-referencing of retrieved studies per PRISMA guidelines. Review Methods: Inclusion criteria captured clinical trials, cohort studies, and case-control studies with infectious outcomes of adults who underwent major mucosal head and neck surgery and received perioperative topical antimicrobial therapy to the oral cavity and/or pharynx. Studies of dental procedures were excluded. The primary outcome was SSI rate, and the secondary outcome was bacterial load. Two blinded investigators screened each text. Results: Of 265 unique citations, 9 studies of 470 total patients were included. Topical treatments included numerous antibiotics and antiseptics directly applied over mucosa. Pooled SSI rates of 252 patients in the intervention cohort and 218 in the control cohort were 8% (95% CI, 3%-14%; I 2 = 61.2%) and 29% (95% CI, 16%-43%; I 2 = 79.5%), respectively. A meta-analysis of 7 comparative studies totaling 192 patients receiving topical therapy and 218 control patients revealed a pooled relative risk of 0.44 (95% CI, 0.28-0.68; I 2 = 0.0%) in favor of the treatment group. The studies demonstrated a short-term decrease in bacterial counts after topical antimicrobial prophylaxis. Conclusion: Patients who underwent prophylactic topical antimicrobial therapy had less than half the risk of developing SSI after mucosal head and neck surgery when compared with those who received no topical prophylaxis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalOtolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery (United States)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • antibiotics
  • antimicrobials
  • clean-contaminated
  • head and neck surgery
  • infection
  • meta-analysis
  • mucosal
  • prophylaxis
  • surgical site infections
  • topical


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