A statewide assessment of surgical site infection following colectomy: the role of oral antibiotics

Ann Surg. 2010 Sep;252(3):514-9; discussion 519-20. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e3181f244f8.


Objective: To determine the utility of adding oral nonabsorbable antibiotics to the bowel prep prior to elective colon surgery.

Summary background data: Bowel preparation prior to colectomy remains controversial. We hypothesized that mechanical bowel preparation with oral antibiotics (compared with without) was associated with lower rates of surgical site infection (SSI).

Methods: Twenty-four Michigan hospitals participated in the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative-Colectomy Best Practices Project. Standard perioperative data, bowel preparation process measures, and Clostridium difficile colitis outcomes were prospectively collected. Among patients receiving mechanical bowel preparation, a logistic regression model generated a propensity score that allowed us to match cases differing only in whether or not they had received oral antibiotics.

Results: Overall, 2011 elective colectomies were performed over 16 months. Mechanical bowel prep without oral antibiotics was administered to 49.6% of patients, whereas 36.4% received a mechanical prep and oral antibiotics. Propensity analysis created 370 paired cases (differing only in receiving oral antibiotics). Patients receiving oral antibiotics were less likely to have any SSI (4.5% vs. 11.8%, P = 0.0001), to have an organ space infection (1.8% vs. 4.2%, P = 0.044) and to have a superficial SSI (2.6% vs. 7.6%, P = 0.001). Patients receiving bowel prep with oral antibiotics were also less likely to have a prolonged ileus (3.9% vs. 8.6%, P = 0.011) and had similar rates of C. difficile colitis (1.3% vs. 1.8%, P = 0.58).

Conclusions: Most patients in Michigan receive mechanical bowel preparation prior to elective colectomy. Oral antibiotics may reduce the incidence of SSI.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cathartics / administration & dosage
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Colectomy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Michigan / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology*
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cathartics