Giving antibiotics prior to low-risk surgery may prevent resistance

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Oct. 10 (UPI) — Researchers report in a new study that surgical patients who receive antibiotics prior to low-risk operations are not at an increased risk for antibiotic-resistant infections after surgery.

Current healthcare industry guidelines do not include the use of prophylactic antibiotics prior to low-risk surgical procedures.

“Guidelines don’t comment on relatively straightforward procedures, including some general surgical procedures, simple or diagnostic laparoscopy, or elective orthopedic, gynecologic, and urologic procedures because there has not been enough evidence about their benefit,” Dr. Daniel Freedberg, a specialist in internal medicine, said in a press release.

“So some surgeons feel strongly that antibiotics are beneficial and always give them. Others never give them because of concern about the use of antibiotics and the later development of antibiotic resistance and bacterial infections that have no or almost no treatment options.”

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center analyzed data from 22,138 patients over the age of 18 who had operations between 2008 and 2016. They selected patients who developed an infection within 30 days of the operation.

Approximately 3.1 percent of patients developed an infection within 30 days and of that group, 80 percent had received antibiotic prophylaxis and 49 percent had an infection resistant to antibiotics.

The study, published today in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, found patients had the same risk of developing an antibiotic-resistant infection regardless of prophylactic treatment with antibiotics — roughly 47 percent of patients with an antibiotic-resistant infection had no antibiotic prophylaxis, while 49 percent of patients with an infection received prophylaxis.

Although a previous antibiotic-resistant infection increased risk for a postoperative antibiotic-resistant infection, researchers said it was the only factor linked to an increased risk.

“The results of this study should be reassuring for those surgeons who choose to use antibiotic prophylaxis believing that antibiotics decrease the overall risk for infection following surgery,” Freedberg said. “The study shows that even if patients develop an infection, they will not be worse off because they received a single dose of an antibiotic.”

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