Surgical antimicrobial prophylaxis (SAP) is widely used to reduce the risk of surgical site infections (SSI), but there is uncertainty as to what the proportion of SSI reduction is. Therefore, it is difficult for surgeons to properly weigh the costs, risks and benefits for individual patients when deciding on the use of SAP, making it challenging to promote antimicrobial stewardship in primary practice settings. The objective of this study was to map the veterinary evidence focused on assessing the effect of SAP on SSI development and in order to identify surgical procedures with some research evidence and possible knowledge gaps. In October 2021 and December 2022, Scopus, CAB Abstracts, Web of Science Core Collection, Embase and MEDLINE were systematically searched. Double blinded screening of records was performed to identify studies in companion animals that reported on the use of SAP and SSI rates. Comparative data were available from 34 out of 39123 records screened including: eight randomised controlled trials (RCT), 23 cohort studies (seven prospective and 16 retrospective) and three retrospective case series representing 12476 dogs and cats in total. Extracted data described peri- or post-operative SAP in nine, and 25 studies, respectively. In the eight RCTs evaluating SAP in companion animals, surgical procedure coverage was skewed towards orthopaedic stifle surgeries in referral settings and there was large variation in SAP protocols, SSI definitions and follow-up periods. More standardized data collection and agreement of SSI definitions is needed to build stronger evidence for optimized patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106101
Number of pages11
JournalThe Veterinary Journal
Early online date13 Mar 2024
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024


  • Antimicrobial stewardship
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Peri-operative
  • SAP
  • SSI
  • Surgical Site Infection


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