Antibiotic use in acute cholecystitis: Practice patterns in the absence of evidence-based guidelines

Department of Surgery, American University of Beirut, Beyrouth, Beyrouth, Lebanon
The Journal of infection (Impact Factor: 4.44). 09/2005; 51(2):128-34. DOI: 10.1016/j.jinf.2004.11.007
Source: PubMed


Antibiotics are frequently administered in acute cholecystitis for preoperative prophylaxis or postoperative treatment. The optimal timing, choice, and duration of antibiotics are unclear.
We conducted a retrospective review of all cases of acute cholecystitis between 1996 and 2001 at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre. A survey among general surgeons was also performed to describe the pattern of antibiotic prescribing in uncomplicated acute cholecystitis. A MEDLINE search for guidelines for antibiotic use in acute cholecystitis was conducted.
The number of cases of acute cholecystitis was 79. The mean duration of postoperative antibiotic therapy was 5 days. There was no correlation between the severity of symptoms, gallbladder description, or positive gallbladder culture and the use of antibiotics postoperatively. Sixty five percent of interviewed surgeons would continue antibiotic therapy postoperatively for 3 or more days. Search of the medical literature failed to provide clear guidelines for antibiotic use in acute cholecystitis.
The use of antibiotics in patients with acute cholecystitis is erratic and costly. Prospective studies are needed to better study the effectiveness of a short course of antibiotics in uncomplicated cases. The role of gallbladder culture in guiding antibiotic therapy should be defined as routine cultures add to the cost without evident benefit.

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