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Am J Surg. 1996 Dec;172(6A):26S-32S.

Let us shorten antibiotic prophylaxis and therapy in surgery.

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Department of Surgery, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee 53226, USA.


Excessive duration of antibiotics for prophylaxis and treatment of surgical infection appears to be the principal reason for "inappropriate" administration in current surgical practice. The main factors to blame are the inability of the clinician to distinguish between contamination, infection, and inflammation. Failure to distinguish between contamination and infection is the reason that prophylaxis is unnecessarily carried through into the postoperative phase for prolonged periods. Failure to distinguish between infection and inflammation misguides surgeons to continue antibiotics for unnecessarily long treatment periods. The concept for shortening courses of antibiotic administration is supported by a forum of experts. The majority of experts also favored a trend away from the use of therapeutic courses of fixed duration, by tailoring the duration of administration to the intraoperative findings to shorten treatment courses. Specific recommendations are (1) contamination: single dose prophylaxis (gastroduodenal peptic perforations operated within 12 hours, traumatic enteric perforations operated within 12 hours, peritoneal contamination with bowel contents during elective or emergency procedures, early or phlegmonous appendicitis, or phlegmonous cholecystitis); (2) resectable infection: 24-hour postoperative antibiotics (appendectomy for gangrenous appendicitis, cholecystectomy for gangrenous cholecystitis, bowel resection for ischemic or strangulated "dead" bowel without frank perforation); (3) advanced infection: 48 hours to 5 days, based on operative findings and patient's condition (intra-abdominal infection from diverse sources); (4) severe infection with the source not easily controllable: longer administration periods may be necessary (e.g., infected pancreatic necrosis).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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