Conventional vs Short Duration of Antibiotics in Patients With Moderate or Severe Cholangitis: Noninferiority Randomized Trial

Am J Gastroenterol. 2024 Jan 1;119(1):176-182. doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000002499. Epub 2023 Sep 21.


Introduction: Successful biliary drainage and antibiotics are the mainstays of therapy in management of patients with acute cholangitis. However, the duration of antibiotic therapy after successful biliary drainage has not been prospectively evaluated. We conducted a single-center, randomized, noninferiority trial to compare short duration of antibiotic therapy with conventional duration of antibiotic therapy in patients with moderate or severe cholangitis.

Methods: Consecutive patients were screened for the inclusion criteria and randomized into either conventional duration (CD) group (8 days) or short duration (SD) group (4 days) of antibiotic therapy. The primary outcome was clinical cure (absence of recurrence of cholangitis at day 30 and >50% reduction of bilirubin at day 15). Secondary outcomes were total days of antibiotic therapy and hospitalization within 30 days, antibiotic-related adverse events, and all-cause mortality at day 30.

Results: The study included 120 patients (the mean age was 55.85 ± 13.52 years, and 50% were male patients). Of them, 51.7% patients had malignant etiology and 76.7% patients had moderate cholangitis. Clinical cure was seen in 79.66% (95% confidence interval, 67.58%-88.12%) patients in the CD group and 77.97% (95% confidence interval, 65.74%-86.78%) patients in the SD group ( P = 0.822). On multivariate analysis, malignant etiology and hypotension at presentation were associated with lower clinical cure. Total duration of antibiotics required postintervention was lower in the SD group (8.58 ± 1.92 and 4.75 ± 2.32 days; P < 0.001). Duration of hospitalization and mortality were similar in both the groups.

Discussion: Short duration of antibiotics is noninferior to conventional duration in patients with moderate-to-severe cholangitis in terms of clinical cure, recurrence of cholangitis, and overall mortality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents*
  • Cholangitis* / drug therapy
  • Cholangitis* / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents