Antibiotic therapy in acute gastroenteritis: a single-center retrospective cohort study

Authors Maher Homsi, Bhanu Singh, Motaaz Azawi, Ankur Panchal, Nabeeh Hauter, Carolyn Salafia, Joshua Aron.


Background Acute gastroenteritis (AGE) is a common reason for emergency department visits and hospitalizations. The role of antibiotics in AGE is unclear, as the current literature shows only a minor impact on the duration of symptoms and the overall clinical course. Our goal was to assess whether antibiotic therapy in patients with AGE affects the length of hospital stay (LOS).

Methods In a retrospective study, we evaluated 479 patients admitted to the hospital with a diagnosis of AGE. The study compared the 219 patients (46%) treated with antibiotics to the remainder treated with supportive therapy. The diagnosis of AGE was made either clinically or based on imaging findings. The primary outcome of this study was to compare the LOS in days between both groups.

Results Patients treated with antibiotics had a similar LOS to those treated with supportive therapy (2.62 vs. 2.66 days, P=0.77). Patients with presumed sepsis had a higher likelihood of receiving antibiotics compared to those without presumed sepsis (risk ratio 1.49, 62.5% vs. 41.95%; P<0.001). In this subgroup, patients who received antibiotics had a slightly shorter LOS than those who received only supportive therapy, but the difference was not statistically significant (2.09 vs. 2.54 days, P=0.69).

Conclusion We found no difference in the LOS for hospitalized patients with AGE treated with antibiotics when compared to supportive therapy. This calls into question the role of antibiotics in the management of AGE.

Keywords Acute gastroenteritis, antibiotic therapy, length of hospital stay, diarrheal disease

Ann Gastroenterol 2019; 32 (6): 565-569

Original Articles