Gut microbiome, surgical complications and probiotics

Ann Gastroenterol. 2017;30(1):45-53. doi: 10.20524/aog.2016.0086. Epub 2016 Sep 6.


The trigger for infectious complications in patients following major abdominal operations is classically attributed to endogenous enteral bacterial translocation, due to the critical condition of the gut. Today, extensive gut microbiome analysis has enabled us to understand that almost all "evidence-based" surgical or medical intervention (antibiotics, bowel preparation, opioids, deprivation of nutrition), in addition to stress-released hormones, could affect the relative abundance and diversity of the enteral microbiome, allowing harmful bacteria to proliferate in the place of depressed beneficial species. Furthermore, these bacteria, after tight sensing of host stress and its consequent humoral alterations, can and do switch their virulence accordingly, towards invasion of the host. Probiotics are the exogenously given, beneficial clusters of live bacteria that, upon digestion, seem to succeed in partially restoring the distorted microbial diversity, thus reducing the infectious complications occurring in surgical and critically ill patients. This review presents the latest data on the interrelationship between the gut microbiome and the occurrence of complications after colon surgery, and the efficacy of probiotics as therapeutic instruments for changing the bacterial imbalance.

Keywords: Gut microbiome; colon anastomosis; colon surgery; probiotics; surgical complications.

Publication types

  • Review