Objective: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of intravenous fluconazole for the prevention of intra-abdominal Candida infections in high-risk surgical patients.
Design: Randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Setting: Two university-affiliated hospitals in Switzerland.
Patients: Forty-nine surgical patients with recurrent gastrointestinal perforations or anastomotic leakages.
Interventions: Prophylaxis with intravenous fluconazole (400 mg per day) or placebo continued until resolution of the underlying surgical condition.
Measurements and main results: Patients were evaluated daily, and specimens for culture were obtained three times per week during prophylaxis. The primary study end points were the frequency of and the time to intra-abdominal Candida infections. Secondary end points were the frequency of candidiasis (intra-abdominal and extra-abdominal) and the emergence or persistence of Candida colonization. Among patients who were not colonized at study entry, Candida was isolated from surveillance cultures during prophylaxis in 15% of the patients in the fluconazole group and in 62% of the patients in the placebo group (relative risk, 0.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.07 to 0.96; p = .04). Candida peritonitis occurred in one of 23 patients (4%) who received fluconazole and in seven of 20 patients (35%) who received placebo (relative risk, 0.12; 95% confidence interval, 0.02 to 0.93; p = .02). In addition, one catheter-related Candida albicans sepsis occurred in a fluconazole-treated patient. Thus, overall, candidiasis developed in two fluconazole patients and seven placebo patients (relative risk, 0.25; 95% confidence interval, 0.06 to 1.06; p = .06). C. albicans accounted for 87% of the Candida species isolated before or during prophylaxis, and all C. albicans strains were susceptible to fluconazole. Fluconazole was well tolerated, and adverse events occurred at similar frequencies in both treatment groups.
Conclusions: Fluconazole prophylaxis prevents colonization and invasive intra-abdominal Candida infections in high-risk surgical patients.