In the present study a low number of complications could clearly be demonstrated in patients operated on laparoscopically for symptomatic CD without using preoperative mechanical bowel preparation but single shot antibiotics only. As a consequence, bowel preparation before surgery is not essential for an uncomplicated postoperative course in this specific group of patients, assuming that single shot antibiotics is repeated after 120 min of operative time.
In the literature there is an increasing body of evidence that combined bowel preparation is useful in left-sided colon and rectal resection. Nichols et al. published the effectiveness of additional oral antibiotics more than 40 years ago [17
]; however, the topic of optimal preparation in (elective) surgery still remains of interest [3
]. In the study by Ohman et al. an infection prevention bundle consisting of preoperative oral antibiotics, mechanical bowel preparation and shower with chlorhexidine containing cleanser and antibiotic irrigation in addition to a clean closure protocol intraoperatively led to a significant reduction of SSI from 21.2% in 2011 to 6.0% in 2015 [19
]; however, the study did not differentiate between laparoscopy and open surgery and type of procedure. Nevertheless, the anatomical location of the disease, indications for surgery and potential confounding factors, such as preoperative stenosis, need to be taken into account to accurately define the influence of preparation prior to surgery. Vo et al. [3
] reported a more pronounced decrease of SSI in left colonic or rectal surgery compared to right-sided hemicolectomy when patients without preoperative oral antibiotics were compared to patients with combined preparation. This is in line with the findings of a large retrospective analysis of the National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database that revealed a decreased rate of anastomotic leakage after right hemicolectomy as well as a reduced rate following laparoscopic partial colectomy compared to the entire population analyzed [20
]. In another analysis of the ACS-NSQIP database by Klinger et al. [21
], combined preparation was superior to either mechanical or antibiotic preparation alone; however, the etiology of the underlying disease was not reported. Notably, the majority of recently published studies are of a retrospective nature [3
] and several prospective randomized studies have not shown any beneficial effect [2
]. Moreover, patient characteristics and pathophysiology differ in CD compared to colorectal malignancies. In an ACS-NSQIP study focusing on IBD, however, a statistically significant benefit in combined preparation compared to single preparation or no preparation was found [24
]. Notably, most patients in the study (42.5%) did not receive any bowel preparation, indicating that there is no clear consensus on optimal preoperative therapy in IBD. Moreover, ulcerative colitis as well as CD are combined and not separately evaluated. Finally, the authors did not differentiate between laparoscopic and open approaches. In contrast to their results, the present analyses on laparoscopically (started or performed) resections revealed an overall incisional SSI rate of 1.6% which is lower than reported by other authors. Therefore, especially in laparoscopic ileocecal and small intestinal resection, the role of bowel preparation needs to be evaluated in prospective, controlled multicenter studies and stratified for preoperative risk factors. In line with this center’s standard of avoiding mechanical bowel preparation in CD patients, a review by Zangenberg et al. evaluated preoperative optimization strategies and concluded that “the evidence to support bowel preparation is not well established” and recommend avoiding bowel preparation until further data from ongoing studies are available [25
]. In a recently published study by Iesalnieks et al. [26
] on the other hand, mechanical bowel preparation significantly reduced intra-abdominal septic complications. Importantly, stenosis rates were lower in their cohort (27% structuring disease) and only 14% underwent laparoscopic surgery. As a conclusion, the authors recommend mechanical bowel preparation (MBP) in (open) colon resections. As their rate of preoperative oral antibiotics was low, however, no definitive conclusion on a combined regimen can be drawn. This is of interest as oral antibiotic therapy in addition to MBP has been shown to reduce the number of incisional SSI in open proctocolectomy procedures [27
], however, the referenced study only included colitis patients who received additional oral antibiotics in addition to MBP. In favor of avoiding bowel preparation and implementing minimally invasive surgery whenever possible, an enhanced recovery pathway without MBP in laparoscopic CD surgery did not lead to increased complication rates with shorter hospital stay in a study by Spinelli et al. [28
]. Notably, SSI per se were not reported in the study but Clavien-Dindo grade I–II complications (which included opening of a wound at the bedside) were similar.
In open surgery for CD, MBP with picosulfate hydrate combined with three doses of kanamycin and metronidazole the day before surgery and intravenous second generation cephalosporins 30 min before surgery with prolonged administration for 24 h was shown to significantly decrease incisional SSI [11
]. Interestingly, the rates of SSI were relatively high in the cited study and the most commonly performed procedure was colonic resection in the respective subgroups, thereby representing significant differences in the patient population compared to the present study. Due to the high incidence of stenosis in the present study and the significant difference in organ space infections between small bowel/ICR and colon/rectal resections, oral antibiotics might show favorable results; however, MBP should be used with caution, leading to potential aspiration risks. Importantly, however, few limitations of the present study need to be addressed. Although a large number of consecutive patients who were operated on for CD were included, patients were not randomized, thus selection bias cannot be ruled out. Due to a clear and constant perioperative regimen, data are well comparable between groups and between other study cohorts; however, it is worth mentioning that patients undergoing colon/rectal resections were more commonly under active immunosuppression with either corticosteroids or azathioprine and had a higher WBC, being a potential surrogate parameter for dwelling infections, although the intraoperative rate of detected abscesses was similar and neither WBC nor immunosuppression showed a significant influence on organ space infections in univariate or multivariate analysis. Interestingly, however, the type of resection showed a statistically significant influence in univariate but not multivariate analysis. These findings underline the importance of future prospective, well-designed multicenter studies accounting for center differences in hygiene standards. Importantly, a control group with oral antibiotics but without MBP should be added as diarrhea and stenosis might obviate the need for active MBP.
In conclusion, laparoscopic surgery for CD is safe and associated with a low number of complications without using mechanical and antibiotic bowel preparation. Bowel preparation may have beneficial effects in colon resection, which needs to be addressed by future prospective trials.