Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Orbital Fractures

Benjamin Reiss*, Lamise Rajjoub, Tamer Mansour, Tony Chen, Aisha Mumtaz
Department of Ophthalmology, The George Washington University, Washington D.C., USA

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© Reiss et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Ophthalmology, The George Washington University, 2150 Pennsylvania Ave Suite 2A, Washington D.C. 20037, USA; Tel: 614-477-8034; E-mail:



To determine whether prophylactic antibiotic use in patients with orbital fracture prevent orbital infection.


Retrospective cohort study.


All patients diagnosed with orbital fracture between January 1, 2008 and March 1, 2014 at The George Washington University Hospital and Clinics.

Main Outcome Measures:

Development of orbital infection.


One hundred seventy-two patients with orbital fracture met our inclusion and exclusion criteria. No orbital infections were documented. Twenty subjects (12%) received no prophylactic antibiotic, and two (1%) received only one dose of antibiotics pre-operatively for surgery. For primary antibiotic, 136 subjects (79%) received oral antibiotics, and 14 (8%) received intravenous (IV) antibiotics (excluding cefazolin). Cephalexin and amoxicillin-clavulanate were the most prescribed oral antibiotics that are equally effective. Five-to-seven day courses of antibiotics had no increased infections compared to ten-to-fourteen day courses. Calculated boundaries for effectiveness of prophylactic antibiotics ranged from a Number Needed to Treat (NNT) of 75 to a Number Needed to Harm (NNH) of 198.


Antibiotics for prevention of orbital infection in patients with orbital fractures have become widely used. Coordination between trauma teams and specialists is needed to prevent patient overmedication and antibiotic resistance. Should antibiotics be used, shorter courses and avoidance of broad spectrum agents are recommended. Additional studies are needed.

Keywords: Post-traumatic orbital cellulitis, Orbital fracture, Antibiotic prophylaxis, Amoxicillin-clavulanate, Cephalexin.