Pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures are common injuries that are often treated surgically with closed reduction and percutaneous pinning. Although surgical-site infections are rare, postoperative antibiotics are frequently administered without evidence or guidelines for their use. With the increasing prevalence of antibiotic-resistant organisms and heightened focus on health care costs, appropriate and evidence-based use of antibiotics is needed. We hypothesized that postoperative antibiotic administration would not decrease the rate of surgical-site infection.

A billing query identified 951 patients with operatively treated supracondylar humerus fractures at our institution over a 15-year period. Records were reviewed for demographic data, perioperative antibiotic use, and the presence of surgical-site infection. Exclusion criteria were open fractures, open reduction, pathologic fractures, metabolic bone disease, the presence of other injuries that required operative treatment, and follow-up < 2 weeks after pin removal. χ and Fisher exact test were used to compare antibiotic use to the incidence of surgical-site infection.

Six hundred eighteen patients met our inclusion criteria. Two hundred thirty-eight patients (38.5%) received postoperative antibiotics. Eleven surgical-site infections were identified for an overall rate of 1.8%. The use of postoperative antibiotics was not associated with a lower rate of surgical-site infection (P=0.883). Patients with a type III fracture (P< 0.001), diminished preoperative vascular (P=0.001) and neurological status (P=0.019), and postoperative hospital admission (P< 0.001) were significantly more likely to receive postoperative antibiotics.

Administration of postoperative antibiotics after closed reduction and percutaneous pinning of pediatric supracondylar humerus fractures does not decrease the rate of surgical-site infection.

Level III-therapeutic.

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