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Bacteremia after hepatectomy: an analysis of a single-center, 10-year experience with 407 patients

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Background and aims. Septic complications after hepatectomy remain a difficult problem. Intra-abdominal sources of postoperative infections are well described in the literature. However, no studies have examined the cause and outcome of bacteremia after hepatectomy. This study evaluated the incidence and outcome of bloodstream infections, bacteremia, after hepatectomy and determined the risk factors associated with the development of this serious complication.

Patients and methods. Records were retrospectively reviewed of 407 patients who underwent an elective first hepatectomy at Nagoya University Hospital between January 1990 and December 1999. The incidence, cause, outcome, and possible risk factors for bacteremia were examined.

Results. A total of 403 blood cultures were performed after hepatectomy in 188 patients (46%), and bacteremia was confirmed in 46 (11%). The incidence was significantly different between patients with obstructive jaundice and those without (24% vs. 4%). Multivariate analysis identified four significant independent variables: operative time, age, obstructive jaundice, and large-scale hepatectomy. The most common bacteria isolated were Staphylococci, followed by Enterococci, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Enterobacter. A probable source of bacteremia was identified in 21 (46%) of the 46 patients. Patients with bacteremia had higher morbidity and mortality rates than patients without bacteremia, and the incidence of organ failure was five to ten times that of patients without bacteremia; the mortality rate was 43% (20/46).

Conclusions. Postoperative bacteremia is a common complication of hepatectomy to resect biliary tract carcinoma, especially in older patients with obstructive jaundice undergoing major hepatectomy. In addition, for more than half of patients with bacteremia, no clear source of the infection is identified. Thus blood cultures are mandatory in high-risk patients who spike a fever after hepatectomy to identify the correct pathogen and its antibiotic susceptibility.

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Shigeta, H., Nagino, M., Kamiya, J. et al. Bacteremia after hepatectomy: an analysis of a single-center, 10-year experience with 407 patients. Langenbecks Arch Surg 387, 117–124 (2002).

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