No. 247-Antibiotic Prophylaxis in Obstetric Procedures

  • Julie van Schalkwyk
    Vancouver, BC
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  • Nancy Van Eyk
    Halifax, NS
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  • Author Footnotes
    ∗ Infectious Diseases Committee: Mark H. Yudin, MD (Chair), Toronto, ON; Marc Boucher, MD, Montréal, QC; Beatrice Cormier, MD, Montréal, QC; Andrée Gruslin, MD, Ottawa, ON; Deborah M. Money, MD, Vancouver, BC; Gina Ogilvie, MD, Vancouver, BC; Eliana Castillo, MD, Vancouver, BC; Caroline Paquet RM, Trois-Rivières, QC; Audrey Steenbeek, RN, Halifax, NS; Nancy Van Eyk, MD, Halifax, NS; Julie van Schalkwyk, MD, Vancouver, BC; Thomas Wong, MD, Ottawa, ON. Disclosure statements have been received from all members of the committee. The literature searches and bibliographic support for this guideline were undertaken by Becky Skidmore, Medical Research Analyst, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.



      To review the evidence and provide recommendations on antibiotic prophylaxis for obstetrical procedures.


      Outcomes evaluated include need and effectiveness of antibiotics to prevent infections in obstetrical procedures.


      Published literature was retrieved through searches of Medline and The Cochrane Library on the topic of antibiotic prophylaxis in obstetrical procedures. Results were restricted to systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials/controlled clinical trials, and observational studies. Searches were updated on a regular basis and articles published from January 1978 to June2009 were incorporated in the guideline. Current guidelines published by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology were also incorporated. Grey (unpublished) literature was identified through searching the websites of health technology assessment and health technology assessment-related agencies, clinical practice guideline collections, clinical trial registries, and national and international medical specialty societies.


      The evidence obtained was reviewed and evaluated by the Infectious Diseases Committee of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada under the leadership of the principal authors, and recommendations were made according to guidelines developed by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (Table 1).

      Benefits, Harms, and Costs

      Implementation of this guideline should reduce the cost and harm resulting from the administration of antibiotics when they are not required and the harm resulting from failure to administer antibiotics when they would be beneficial.

      Summary Statements

      • 1.
        Available evidence does not support the use of prophylactic antibiotics to reduce infectious morbidity following operative vaginal delivery (II-1).
      • 2.
        There is insufficient evidence to argue for or against the use of prophylactic antibiotics to reduce infectious morbidity for manual removal of the placenta (III).
      • 3.
        There is insufficient evidence to argue for or against the use of prophylactic antibiotics at the time of postpartum dilatation and curettage for retained products of conception (III).
      • 4.
        Available evidence does not support the use of prophylactic antibiotics to reduce infectious morbidity following elective or emergency cerclage (II-3).


      • 1.
        All women undergoing elective or emergency Caesarean section should receive antibiotic prophylaxis (I-A).
      • 2.
        The choice of antibiotic for Caesarean section should be a single dose of a first-generation cephalosporin. If the patient has a penicillin allergy, clindamycin or erythromycin can be used (I-A).
      • 3.
        The timing of prophylactic antibiotics for Caesarean section should be 15 to 60 minutes prior to skin incision. No additional doses are recommended (I-A).
      • 4.
        If an open abdominal procedure is lengthy (>3 hours) or estimated blood loss is greater than 1500 mL, an additional dose of the prophylactic antibiotic may be given 3 to 4 hours after the initial dose (III-L).
      • 5.
        Prophylactic antibiotics may be considered for the reduction of infectious morbidity associated with repair of third and fourth degree perineal injury (I-B).
      • 6.
        In patients with morbid obesity (BMI >35), doubling the antibiotic dose may be considered (III-B).
      • 7.
        Antibiotics should not be administered solely to prevent endocarditis for patients who undergo an obstetrical procedure of any kind (III-E).

      Key Words


      CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), IE (infective endocarditis), SSI (surgical site infection)
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