Background: The merit of pre-operative biliary drainage in managing hepatic, biliary or pancreatic patients remains unclear with previous studies demonstrating significant increases in bacterobilia.
Aims: To establish if pre-operative biliary drainage was associated with (i) a change in bacterial flora, (ii) post-operative sepsis and (iii) to ascertain if a modification of antibiotic prophylaxis was warranted.
Methods: Data were collected on 331 patients undergoing hepatic, biliary or pancreatic surgery for malignant obstruction between August 2000 and June 2005. Microbiological data from intra-operative bile, post-operative wounds, blood cultures, urine and sputum were analysed. All episodes of pre-operative endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP), stenting and percutaneous drainage were documented.
Results: One hundred and sixty two patients had ERCP prior to surgery and 154 had surgery only. In comparison to patients who had surgery alone stented patients had significantly increased rates of bacterobilia (40 vs. 85%) and fungobilia (8 vs. 34%, both P < 0.001). Pre-operative biliary drainage significantly increased post-operative sepsis, wound infections and prolonged in-patient stay (P < 0.05). The most common organisms cultured were coliforms and enterococcus with percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography (PTC) highly significant for the development of MRSA sepsis.
Conclusions: Pre-operative biliary drainage is associated with a high incidence of bacterobilia and fungal colonization. Pre-operative biliary drainage should be utilized selectively, with modification of antibiotic prophylaxis according to patient characteristics.