Can Probiotics Improve Your Surgical Outcomes?

Plast Surg Nurs. 2016 Apr-Jun;36(2):74-7. doi: 10.1097/PSN.0000000000000143.


Despite ongoing advances in medical technology, postoperative infections and infectious complications continue to be a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. Surgical trauma and prophylactic antibiotics disrupt the balance of the intestinal microbiota and barrier function of the gut, potentiating an enhanced inflammatory response and further immune system depression. With the increasing costs of health care and emergence of multidrug-resistant bacteria, alternative approaches must be explored. Many clinical studies have demonstrated that the use of probiotics, prebiotics, or a combination of both (synbiotics) as a part of innovative strategies can improve outcomes of elective abdominal and gastrointestinal surgical procedures. It has been demonstrated that probiotics play a role in gut barrier improvement and immunomodulation. However, it is evident that additional research is needed including larger, multicenter, randomized controlled trials to validate the safety and efficacy of their use in surgical patients. The purpose of this article is to discuss background of probiotic use in abdominal/gastrointestinal surgery, risk and benefits, clinical relevance for health care providers, and further implications for research.

MeSH terms

  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures / standards*
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / standards
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Prebiotics
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Synbiotics


  • Prebiotics