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Am Surg. 1990 Apr;56(4):251-4.

Antibiotics in elective colon surgery. A randomized trial of oral, systemic, and oral/systemic antibiotics for prophylaxis.

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Department of Surgery, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Ohio 44106.


A prospective, randomized double-blind study was undertaken to compare the efficacy of three prophylactic regimens (oral neomycin and erythromycin, intravenous cefoxitin, and a combination of both oral and intravenous antibiotics) in patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery. One hundred sixty-nine patients were randomized and 146 patients were evaluable. Septic complications occurred in 11.4 per cent of patients receiving oral antibiotics only, in 11.7 per cent of patients receiving intravenous cefoxitin alone, and in 7.8 per cent of patients receiving both oral and intravenous antibiotics. These differences were not statistically different. The greatest number of septic complications occurred in those patients with anastomotic disruptions. Two patients died (1.3%), both of whom had major anastomotic failures. There was no advantage between any of the groups in the incidence of wound infection (3.9-6.8%). Thus, no advantage could be identified in this study in the combination of oral and intravenous antibiotics in elective colorectal surgery.

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