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Ann Surg. 1991 Nov;214(5):543-9.

Antibiotic treatment for surgical peritonitis.

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Department of Surgery, University of New Mexico School of Medicine.


The charts of 480 patients with secondary bacterial peritonitis were reviewed. The antibiotics used were compared with the culture and sensitivity data obtained at surgery, and the outcomes of patients were evaluated. Patients treated with a single broad-spectrum antibiotic had a better outcome than patients treated with multiple drug treatment. Inadequate empiric antibiotic treatment was associated with poorer outcome than any other type of treatment. The outcome of this inadequate treatment group could not be improved by any antibiotic response to culture and sensitivity information after operation. Those patients treated with antibiotic coverage for anticipated organisms and having no cultures taken did as well as patients having cultures taken. Surgeons typically ignore culture data after operation, and only 8.8% of patients in this study had an appropriate change in antibiotic treatment after operation. A benefit from obtaining operative cultures could not be identified.

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