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Clin Infect Dis. 1994 Aug;19(2):279-86.

Role of antibiotics in the treatment and prevention of acute and recurrent cholangitis.

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Department of Gastroenterology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Cholangitis is usually the consequence of a combination of factors: impairment of the flow of bile and bacterial colonization of the biliary tract. Although reestablishing biliary drainage is the mainstay of treatment, antibiotics play an important role in the management of cholangitis. In this review, the use of antibiotics for treatment, prophylaxis, and maintenance therapy is discussed. Antibiotics for the treatment of acute cholangitis should be given for 7-10 days in therapeutic dosages and may allow a more selective timing of further interventions. Antibiotic prophylaxis for cholangitis ought to be given as a single (high) dose shortly before surgical or nonsurgical manipulations of the biliary system. Patients with a compromised biliary system (e.g., on account of an endoprosthesis in situ or hepaticojejunostomy) who are prone to develop recurrent bouts of cholangitis may benefit from antibiotic maintenance therapy, given daily in lower-than-therapeutic dosages.

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