Do Antibiotics Prevent Infectious Complications in Critically Injured Patients With Blunt Nonoperative Midfacial Trauma?

Daniel Hyneman, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Jack Coburn, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Lillian Bellfi, University Medical Center New Orleans
Andrew G. Chapple, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans
Brian J. Christensen, LSU Health Sciences Center - New Orleans


Background: While recent literature suggests antibiotics are not needed in patients with nonoperative facial fractures involving sinuses, the existing studies do not focus on critically injured patients who are known to be at higher risk for sinusitis and ventilator-associated pneumonia, which could be exacerbated by facial fractures. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine if antibiotics reduce the rate of infectious complications in critically injured patients who have blunt midfacial trauma treated nonoperatively. Study design, setting, sample: The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study consisting of patients admitted to the trauma intensive care unit who sustained blunt midfacial injuries managed nonoperatively at an urban Level 1 trauma center from August 13th, 2012, to July 30th, 2020. Adults who were critically injured on admission and sustained a midfacial fracture involving a sinus were included in the study. Patients who underwent operative repair of any facial fracture were excluded. Predictor variable: The predictor variable was the use of antibiotics. Main outcome variable: The primary outcome variable was the development of infectious complications, such as sinusitis, soft tissue infection, or any type of pneumonia, including ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP). Analyses: The data were analyzed using Wilcoxon rank sum tests, Fisher exact tests, and multivariable logistic regression as appropriate for analysis type with significance level set at <0.05. Results: The study included 307 patients, with a mean age of 40.6 years. Men accounted for 85.0% of the study population. Antibiotics were administered to 229 (74.6%) of the study population. Complications developed in 13.6% of the patients, which included sinusitis (0.3%), VAP (7.5%), and other types of pneumonia (5.9%). Clostridioides difficile colitis developed in 2 patients (0.6%). Antibiotics were not associated with a decrease in infectious complications in either the unadjusted analysis (13.1% in antibiotic group, 15.4% in no antibiotic group, RR = 0.85 [95% confidence interval = 0.5 to 1.6], P =.7) or the adjusted analysis (odds ratio 0.74 [0.34 to 1.62]). Conclusions and relevance: Even in this critically injured patient population thought to be at elevated risk for infectious complications from their midfacial fractures, the rates of infectious complications in those who received antibiotics and those who did not were no different. These results suggest that consideration of more judicious use of antibiotics is warranted in critically ill patients with nonoperative midface fractures.