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AIMS: To determine the prevalence of bactibilia in patients undergoing cholecystectomy and to relate the presence or absence of organisms to the preoperative and postoperative course. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Patients undergoing cholecystectomy under the care of a single consultant surgeon during a continuous 5-year period were identified from a prospectively maintained departmental database. Symptoms, clinical signs, findings of investigations, details of treatment and postoperative care were noted. Risk factors for bactibilia (acute cholecystitis, common duct stones, emergency surgery, intraoperative findings and age > 70 years) were documented. Patients were divided according to the presence (B + ) or absence (B-) of bacteria on culture of their bile. RESULTS: In all, 128/180 (70%) of cholecystectomies had full data available for analysis. Bacteria were identified in the bile of 20 (15.6%) patients (B+ group). The B+ group was significantly older at 63.78+/-9.7 versus 61.62+/-13.9 (p<0.05) and contained significantly fewer females than the B- group (p<0.05). All 20 patients (100%) in the B+ group had > or = 1 risk factor, while these factors were present in only 29/108 (30.3%) of patients in the B- group (p<0.05). The overall incidence of infective complications was 20% in the B+ group compared with 0.9% in the B- group (p<0.05) and the bile-related infections were higher in the B+ group (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The study demonstrated that while patients with complicated gallstone disease frequently exhibit bactibilia, patients with uncomplicated cholelithiasis have aseptic bile. The findings would suggest that prophylactic antibiotics should be limited to patients with risk factors for bactibilia.

Original publication




Journal article


HPB (Oxford)

Publication Date





225 - 228