Antibiotic prophylaxis in variceal hemorrhage: timing, effectiveness and Clostridium difficile rates

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Nov 14;16(42):5317-23. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i42.5317.


Aim: To investigate if antibiotics administered within 8 h of endoscopy reduce mortality or increase the incidence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI).

Methods: A 2-year retrospective analysis of all patients who presented with first variceal hemorrhage was undertaken. The primary outcome measure was 28-d mortality. Secondary outcome measures were 28-d rebleeding rates and 28-d incidence of CDI. All patients were admitted to a tertiary liver unit with a consultant-led, 24-h endoscopy service. Patients received standard care including terlipressin therapy. Data collection included: primary and secondary outcome measures, timing of first administration of intravenous antibiotics, etiology of liver disease, demographics, endoscopy details and complications. A prospective study was undertaken to determine the incidence of CDI in the study population and general medical inpatients admitted for antibiotic therapy of at least 5 d duration. Statistical analysis was undertaken using univariate, non-parametric tests and multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: There were 70 first presentations of variceal hemorrhage during the study period. Seventy percent of cases were male and 65.7% were due to chronic alcoholic liver disease. In total, 64/70 (91.4%) patients received antibiotics as prophylaxis during their admission. Specifically, 53/70 (75.7%) received antibiotics either before endoscopy or within 8 h of endoscopy [peri-endoscopy (8 h) group], whereas 17/70 (24.3%) received antibiotics at > 8 h after endoscopy or not at all (non peri-endoscopy group). Overall mortality and rebleeding rates were 13/70 (18.6%) and 14/70 (20%), respectively. The peri-endoscopy (8 h) group was significantly less likely to die compared with the non peri-endoscopy group [13.2% vs 35.3%, P = 0.04, odds ratio (OR) = 0.28 (0.078-0.997)] and showed a trend towards reduced rebleeding [17.0% vs 29.4%, P = 0.27, OR = 0.49 (0.14-1.74)]. On univariate analysis, the non peri-endoscopy group [P = 0.02, OR = 3.58 (1.00-12.81)], higher model for end-stage liver disease (MELD) score (P = 0.02), presence of hepatorenal syndrome [P < 0.01, OR = 11.25 (2.24-56.42)] and suffering a clinical episode of sepsis [P = 0.03, OR = 4.03 (1.11-14.58)] were significant predictors of death at 28 d. On multivariate logistic regression analysis, lower MELD score [P = 0.01, OR = 1.16 (1.04-1.28)] and peri-endoscopy (8 h) group [P = 0.01, OR = 0.15 (0.03-0.68)] were independent predictors of survival at 28 d. The CDI incidence (5.7%) was comparable to that in the general medical population (5%).

Conclusion: Antibiotics administered up to 8 h following endoscopy were associated with improved survival at 28 d. CDI incidence was comparable to that in other patient groups.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / pharmacology
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis*
  • Clostridioides difficile / drug effects*
  • Clostridium Infections* / etiology
  • Clostridium Infections* / prevention & control
  • Endoscopy* / adverse effects
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / microbiology
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / mortality
  • Esophageal and Gastric Varices* / surgery
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / microbiology
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / mortality
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents