• cesarean section;
  • infection prophylaxis;
  • low-income country;
  • Mozambique

Background.  There is a need to assess the cost-benefit of different models of antibiotic administration for the prevention of post cesarean infection, particularly in resource-scarce settings.

Design.  Randomized, nonblinded comparative study of a single combined preoperative dose of gentamicin and metronidazole vs. a post cesarean scheme for infection prophylaxis.

Methods.  Pregnant women (n = 288) with indication for emergency cesarean section were randomly allotted to two groups. Group 1 (n = 143) received the single, combined dose of prophylactic antibiotics and group 2 (n = 145) received, over 7 days, the postoperative standard scheme of antibiotics followed in the department. Both groups were followed up during 7 days for detection of signs of wound infection, endometritis, peritonitis and urinary tract infection.

Main outcome measures.  Prevalence of postoperative infection, mean hospital stay and costs of antibiotics used.

Results.  Women completing the study (n = 241) were distributed into group 1 (n = 116) and group 2 (n = 125). No significant difference was found neither in the prevalence of postoperative infection nor in the mean hospital stay. No death occurred. The cost of the single dose of prophylactic antibiotics was less than one-tenth of the cost of the standard postoperative scheme.

Conclusion.  In our setting, the administration of a single dose of 160 mg of gentamicin in combination with 500 mg of metronidazole before emergency cesarean section for prevention of infection is clinically equivalent to existing conventional week-long postoperative therap, but at approximately one-tenth of the cost.