Pharmacy World and Science

, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 171–177 | Cite as

Selective decontamination of the digestive tract: effect of cessation of routine application at an ICU

  • H. A. Tissot van Patot
  • J. A. Leusink
  • J. Roodenburg
  • B. M. de Jongh
  • H. S. Lau
  • Sj. de Boer
  • A. de Boer


Background: Selective decontamination of the digestive tract (SDD) with non-absorbable antibiotics was extensively used at intensive care units (ICU) in Europe to prevent nosocomial infections in critically ill patients. After three recent meta-analyses in which it was demonstrated that SDD did not influence hospital stay and mortality in these patients several ICU's decided to stop the routine use of SDD.

Objective: To examine the effects of the cessation of SDD on nosocomial infections, mortality and hospital stay at an ICU in post-operative patients.Design: Retro-and prospective follow-up.Patients: Post-operative patients with mechanical ventilation (MV) for ≥5 days at an ICU were included. The retrospective group (SDD group) comprised of 138 patients (mean age 66, range 10–91; 78% male) and the prospective group (non-SDD group) of 142 patients (mean age 67, range 18–85; 65% male). The SDD regime consisted of colistin, tobramycin and amphotericin B. Cessation of the SDD was accompanied by a shortening of the routine intravenous cefuroxime prophylaxis.Results: There was a nonsignificant increase from an average 21 to 23 days ICU stay in the non-SDD group when compared with the SDD group (p>0.05). Of the 280 patients 97 (35%) died on the ICU. The risk of death was lower in the non-SDD group (adjusted hazard ratio 0.7 with 95% CI 0.5–1.1). There was a trend towards an increase in infections as a cause of death in the non-SDD group (38% of the ceased patients versus 20% in the SDD group) (p>0.05). The incidence of respiratory tract infection (per 1000 person days) was 80 (95% CI 48–113) in the non-SDD group versus 19 (95% CI 8–22) in the SDD group (adjusted hazard ratio 4.5 (95% CI 2.9–7.1)).

Conclusion: The cessation of the routine application of SDD in post-operative patients mechanically ventilated for 5 days or more did nod adversely affect survival nor increased length of stay at the ICU. There may have been a shift to infections as a cause of death after cessation of SDD.


Historical control group Infections Mortality Selective decontamination of the digestive tract 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. A. Tissot van Patot
    • 1
  • J. A. Leusink
    • 2
  • J. Roodenburg
    • 1
  • B. M. de Jongh
    • 3
  • H. S. Lau
    • 1
  • Sj. de Boer
    • 1
  • A. de Boer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pharmacoepidemiology and PharmacotherapyFaculty of PharmacyUtrechtthe Netherlands
  2. 2.Intensive Care UnitSt. Antonius HospitalNieuwegeinthe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologySt. Antonius HospitalNieuwegeinthe Netherlands

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