Antibiotic prophylaxis in severe acute pancreatitis- what are the facts?

Slavin, J.; Neoptolemos, J. P.
April 2001
Langenbeck's Archives of Surgery;Apr2001, Vol. 386 Issue 2, p155
Academic Journal
After acute pancreatitis, sepsis secondary to infected pancreatic necrosis is the main cause of late stage death. Routine prophylactic antibiotic use following a severe attack of pancreatitis has been proposed but remains contentious. Three recent randomised controlled studies compared routine antibiotic prophylaxis to no treatment. All three showed reduced sepsis rates and two showed reduced rates of pancreatic infection, but in none was there any effect on operation rate. Only one study, from Finland, has shown any effect on mortality. A feature of the use of prophylactic antibiotics in acute pancreatitis is the increased frequency of drug-resistant or unusual organisms, including fungi, cultured from pancreatic tissue removed at necrosectomy. Mortality may be increased in this group of patients. The aim of antibiotic prophylaxis is a reduced death or operation rate rather than reduced sepsis rates per se and it is possible that the use of prophylactic antibiotics in acute pancreatitis merely masks the underlying disease process without affecting the natural history. There are, thus, too many uncertainties to enable a clear recommendation on routine antibiotic prophylaxis in severe acute pancreatitis. Further well-designed, adequately powered studies are required to establish the role of antibiotic prophylaxis in severe acute pancreatitis.


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