Antibiotic Use in Primary Palatoplasty: A Survey of Practice Patterns, Assessment of Efficacy, and Proposed Guidelines for Use

S. Alex Rottgers, Liliana Camison, Rick Mai, Sameer Shakir, Lorelei Grunwaldt, Andrew J. Nowalk, Megan Natali, Joseph E. Losee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The literature provides no guidelines for antibiotic use in palatoplasty. The authors sought to ascertain practice patterns; review a large, single-surgeon experience, and propose guidelines for antibiotic use in primary palatoplasty. Methods: A six-question survey was e-mailed to all surgeons of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association. A retrospective study was also conducted of the senior author's 10-year primary palatoplasty series, and two groups were studied. Group 1 received no antibiotics. Group 2 received preoperative and/or postoperative antibiotics. Results: Three hundred twelve of 1115 surgeons (28 percent) responded to the survey. Eighty-five percent administered prophylactic antibiotics, including 26 percent who used a single preoperative dose. A further 23 percent gave 24 hours of postoperative therapy; 12 percent used 25 to 72 hours, 16 percent used 4 to 5 days, and 12 percent used 6 to 10 days. Five percent of surgeons administered penicillin, 64 percent administered a first-generation cephalosporin, 13 percent administered ampicillin/sulbactam, and 8 percent gave clindamycin. The authors reviewed 311 patients; 173 receive antibiotics and 138 did not. Delayed healing and fistula rates did not differ between groups: 16.8 percent versus 15.2 percent (p = 0.71) and 2.9 percent versus 1.4 percent (p = 0.47), respectively. A single patient treated without antibiotics developed a postoperative bacteremia. This case did not meet the Centers for Disease Control definition of a surgical site infection, but the patient developed a palatal fistula. Conclusions: Antibiotic use in primary palatoplasty varies widely. The authors' data support a clinician's choice to forego antibiotic use; however, given the significance of palatal fistulae and the single case of postoperative streptococcal bacteremia, the study group recommends a single preoperative dose of ampicillin/sulbactam. Current evidence cannot justify the use of protracted antibiotic regimens. Clinical Question/Level of Evidence: Therapeutic, III.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-582
Number of pages9
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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