Mechanical Bowel Preparation in Intestinal Surgery: A Meta-Analysis and Review of the Literature

  • Carlos E. Pineda
  • Andrew A. Shelton
  • Tina Hernandez-Boussard
  • John M. Morton
  • Mark L. Welton
ssat quick shot presentation



Despite several meta-analyses and randomized controlled trials showing no benefit to patients, mechanical bowel preparation (MBP) remains the standard of practice for patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery.


We performed a systematic review of the literature of trials that prospectively compared MBP with no MBP for patients undergoing elective colorectal resection. We searched MEDLINE, LILACS, and SCISEARCH, abstracts of pertinent scientific meetings and reference lists for each article found. Experts in the field were queried as to knowledge of additional reports. Outcomes abstracted were anastomotic leaks and wound infections. Meta-analysis was performed using Peto Odds ratio.


Of 4,601 patients (13 trials), 2,304 received MBP (Group 1) and 2,297 did not (Group 2). Anastomotic leaks occurred in 97(4.2%) patients in Group 1 and in 81(3.5%) patients in Group 2 (Peto OR = 1.214, CI 95%:0.899–1.64, P = 0.206). Wound infections occurred in 227(9.9%) patients in Group 1 and in 201(8.8%) patients in Group 2 (Peto OR = 1.156, CI 95%:0.946–1.413, P = 0.155).


This meta-analysis demonstrates that MBP provides no benefit to patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery, thus, supporting elimination of routine MBP in elective colorectal surgery.


In conclusion, MBP is of no benefit to patients undergoing elective colorectal resection and need not be recommended to meet “standard of care.”


Mechanical bowel preparation Elective intestinal surgery Colon and rectal surgery Meta-analysis Literature review Intestinal preparation 


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Copyright information

© The Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos E. Pineda
    • 1
  • Andrew A. Shelton
    • 1
  • Tina Hernandez-Boussard
    • 1
  • John M. Morton
    • 1
  • Mark L. Welton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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