A new study in The Lancet Infectious Diseases reveals the results of a study of infection related to gastro-intestinal surgery worldwide.

Over 12,000 patient cases from a range of low, middle and high income countries were analysed. The results showed that over 12% contracted an infection within one month of surgery, 22% of infections were resistant to the standard antibiotics given to prevent infection and almost 5% of patients with a post-surgical infection died.

The study focused on both emergency and elective abdominal operations such as gallbladder or appendix removal where there is a high risk of infection.

Prophylactic antibiotics are frequently used to try to prevent infection in these procedures but the new study suggests that over one fifth of the infections could be resistant to the antibiotics used.

A 2016 ‘Review on Antimicrobial Resistance’, commissioned by David Cameron, observed that over 700,000 people die due to antibiotic resistance globally each year, with numbers on the rise. According to the results of the new study, patients in lower income countries are more likely to suffer from post-surgical infection due to antibiotic resistance.

According to The Times, where the new study is reported, gastro-intestinal operations are carried out approximately one million times per year in Britain. Other surgical operations are, of course, also vulnerable to infection.

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