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Corticosteroids but not infliximab increase short-term postoperative infectious complications in patients with ulcerative colitis

Ferrante, M. MD, PhD1,*; D'Hoore, A. MD, PhD1; Vermeire, S. MD, PhD1; Declerck, S. MD1; Noman, M. MD1; Van Assche, G. MD, PhD1; Hoffman, I. MD, PhD1; Rutgeerts, P. MD, PhD, FRCP1; Penninckx, F. MD, PhD1

doi: 10.1002/ibd.20863
Original Article: Original Clinical Articles

Background: Recent reports suggest that the preoperative use of infliximab (IFX) increases postoperative infectious complications in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). Therefore, we determined the impact of IFX on postoperative infectious complications.

Methods: A consecutive group of 141 UC patients (41% female, median age 39.8 years) undergoing (procto)colectomy was studied. Postoperative infectious complications were compared between 22 patients who received IFX within 12 weeks prior to (procto)colectomy (IFX group) and 119 patients who did not (control group). Short-term infectious complications, consisting of anastomotic leaks, pelvic abscesses, wound infections, and nonsurgical site infections, were recorded within 30 days after primary surgery.

Results: At primary surgery there was no significant difference in gender, disease extent, smoking behavior, body mass index, and concomitant medication (including corticosteroids) between the groups. Patients in the IFX group less often underwent restorative proctocolectomy without defunctioning ileostomy (9% versus 34%, P = 0.022), had a significantly shorter median (interquartile range, IQR) disease duration (2.7 [1.2–8.6] versus 5.9 [2.6–13.0] years, P < 0.036) and a significantly higher C-reactive protein level at primary surgery (51.7 [9.9–103.6] versus 19.1 [7.5–42.6] mg/L, P = 0.023). There was no short-term mortality. A moderate-to-high dose of corticosteroids (≥20 mg methylprednisolone for ≥2 months, odds ratio 5.19 [95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.72–15.66], P = 0.003) and a restorative proctocolectomy without defunctioning ileostomy (odds ratio 6.45 [95% CI: 2.12–19.64], P = 0.001) were independent predictors of short-term postoperative infectious complications.

Conclusion: Corticosteroids and a restorative proctocolectomy without defunctioning ileostomy, but not IFX, are associated with an increased risk of short-term postoperative infectious complications in UC.

1Departments of Gastroenterology, Abdominal Surgery, and Paediatric Gastroenterology, University Hospital Leuven, Belgium

*Reprints: Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital, Herestraat 49, Leuven B300, Belgium


Received 17 November 2008; Accepted 2 December 2008

Published online 22 January 2009 in Wiley InterScience (

© Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
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