Skipping the Antibiotics After Surgery

Gallbladder removal surgery did not require antibiotics afterward

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) It's true that any kind of surgery, including gallbladder removal, can increase the risk of infection. But that doesn't mean patients always need to take antibiotics afterward.

A recent study found that taking antibiotics after gallbladder surgery did not decrease the risk of infection.

The patients still took antibiotics before and during the surgery to reduce infection risk. But after the surgery, patients who did and did not take antibiotics had similar rates of infection.

"Discuss post-op recovery with your surgeon."

This study, led by Jean Marc Regimbeau, MD, PhD, of the Department of Digestive and Oncological Surgery at CHU Nord Amiens and University of Picardie in France, looked at how helpful antibiotics were after gallbladder surgery.

The authors noted that antibiotics are typically given to patients before and during surgery to remove the gallbladder, but it's not clear whether they need antibiotics after surgery. Therefore, they split 414 patients into two groups to test whether antibiotics made a difference after gallbladder removal surgery.

All 414 patients, from across 17 different medical centers, had either mild or moderate gallbladder inflammation, which led them to have surgery.

All the patients took 2 grams of the antibiotic amoxicillin plus clavulanic acid three times a day leading up to and during the surgery.

Then, after the surgery, one group no longer took the antibiotics, while the other group continued taking them three times a day for five more days.

Over the next four weeks and at the four-week follow-up visit, any infections were recorded for the patients and then compared.

Of the patients not taking antibiotics, 17 percent developed an infection, compared with 15 percent of the patients who had been taking antibiotics.

However, some patients had been lost to follow-up, and when the percentages were compared using only the 338 patients who remained at the end of the study, the infection rates were 13 percent in both groups.

The researchers concluded that taking the antibiotics after surgery did not reduce the risk of an infection.

In looking at other complications among both groups, the researchers found that the severity of other complications was about the same regardless of whether they took antibiotics or not.

Therefore, the researchers determined that patients who had mild or moderate gallbladder inflammation and took antibiotics before and during surgery did not need to continue antibiotics after surgery.

There was no evidence that taking antibiotics after the surgery for these patients was beneficial.

This study was published July 8 in the journal JAMA. The research was funded by French Ministry of Health's Programme Hospitalier de Recherche Clinique 2009 program. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
July 8, 2014
Last Updated:
July 8, 2014