Despite evidence that mechanical bowel preparation (MBP) does not reduce the rate of postoperative complications, many surgeons still use MBP before surgery. We sought to appraise and synthesize the available evidence regarding preoperative bowel preparation in patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery.
We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and Cochrane Databases to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing patients who received a bowel preparation with those who did not. Two authors reviewed the abstracts to identify articles for critical appraisal. We used the methods of the United States Preventive Services Task Force to grade study quality and level of evidence, as well as formulate the final recommendations. Outcomes assessed included postoperative infectious complications, such as anastomotic dehiscence and superficial surgical site infections.
Our review identified 14 RCTs and 8 meta-analyses. Based on the quality and content of these original manuscripts, we formulated 6 recommendations for various aspects of bowel preparation in patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery.
Taking into account the lack of difference in postoperative infectious complication rates when MBP is omitted and the adverse effects of MBP, we believe that, based on the literature, MBP before surgery should be omitted.