Benefits of Bowel Preparation Beyond Surgical Site Infection: A Retrospective Study

Ann Surg. 2016 Dec;264(6):1051-1057. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000001576.


Objectives: To examine whether the administration of mechanical bowel preparation (MBP) plus oral antibiotic bowel preparation (OABP) was associated with reduced surgical site infections (SSIs), which in turn leads to a reduction of non-SSI-related postoperative complications.

Background: Administration of MBP/OABP before elective colectomy reduces the incidence of SSI. We hypothesized that reduction of SSI is on causal pathway between the use of MBP/OABP and the reduction of other postoperative complications.

Methods: The study population consisted of all colectomy cases in the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Colectomy Targeted Participant Use Data File for 2012 and 2013. Postoperative outcomes were compared based on the type of bowel preparation: none, MBP only, OABP only, and MBP plus OABP adjusting for other covariates.

Results: The cohort included 19,686 patients. Of these 5060 (25.7%) patients did not receive any form of bowel preparation, 8020 (40.7%) received MBP only, 641 (3.3%) received OABP only, and 5965 (30.3%) received MBP plus OABP. Patients who received MBP plus OABP had a lower incidence of superficial SSI, deep SSI, organ space SSI, any SSI, anastomotic leak, postoperative ileus, sepsis, readmission, and reoperation compared with patients who received neither (all P < 0.01). The reduction in SSI incidence was associated with a reduction in wound dehiscence, anastomotic leak, pneumonia, prolonged requirement of mechanical ventilator, sepsis, septic shock, readmission, and reoperation.

Conclusions: Combined MBP plus OABP before elective colectomy was associated with reduced SSI, which ultimately was associated with a reduction in non-SSI-related complications.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis
  • Cathartics / administration & dosage*
  • Colectomy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surgical Wound Infection / epidemiology
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cathartics