Mechanical Bowel Preparation or Not? Outcome of a Multicenter, Randomized Trial in Elective Open Colon Surgery

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Abstract

PURPOSE:

Mechanical bowel preparation is common practice in elective colon surgery. In recent literature the value of this procedure is under discussion. To verify the value of mechanical bowel preparation in elective open colon surgery, a randomized clinical trial was conducted.

METHODS:

During a prospective, multicenter, randomized study, 250 patients undergoing elective open colon surgery were randomized between receiving mechanical bowel preparation with polyethylene glycol (PEG group, 125 patients) and having a normal meal preoperatively (normal meal preoperatively group, 125 patients). Outcome parameters were wound infection with bacterial results of intraoperative swabs and anastomotic leak.

RESULTS:

In the polyethylene glycol group there were a total of nine wound infections (7.2 percent) and seven anastomotic leaks (5.6 percent) compared with seven wound infections (5.6 percent) (P= 0.61) and six anastomotic leaks (4.8 percent) (P= 0.78) in the normal meal preoperatively group. Bacterial results showed 52 percent sterile subcutis swabs in the PEG group and 63 percent sterile subcutis swabs in the normal meal preoperatively group (P= 0.11).

CONCLUSION:

In the pres-ent study we could not detect a difference in outcome parameters between patients receiving mechanical bowel preparation in elective open colon surgery and patients without preoperative treatment of the bowel. The present study, although underpowered, did not show a difference in the primary outcome of bacterial wound cultures between patients receiving preoperative mechanical bowel preparation and patients receiving no preoperative bowel treatment. We conclude that there may be no need to continue the use of mechanical bowel preparation in elective open colon surgery.

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