Performing surgery and chemotherapy may become more challenging due to the growing threat of antibiotic resistance and weakening antibiotics.

Antibiotics like Clindamycin and Cefuroxime are used not only to treat infections but also as prophylaxis during surgeries and other therapies to prevent infections. However, a new study found that, with bacteria growing resistant against commonly used antibiotics, the risk of acquiring infection during surgeries has increased.

Some bacteria are even growing resistant against the strongest, last line antibiotics available.

"The declining efficacy of existing antibiotics potentially jeopardises outcomes in patients undergoing medical procedures," the authors wrote in their study, which was published in the Lancet, which aimed to investigate what the increase in antibiotic resistance could mean for surgical and chemotherapy procedures in the U.S.

"A lot of common surgical procedures and cancer chemotherapy will be virtually impossible if antibiotic resistance is not tackled urgently," said Dr. Ramanan Laxminarayan, the study's lead author and Director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP).

Based on data gathered from published studies and reviews of clinical trials, the researchers found that approximately 39 percent of surgical site infections post caesarean surgery and up to 90 percent of infections following prostate cancer biopsy are caused by bacteria resistant to antibiotics commonly given pre-operatively.

For chemotherapies, about 27 percent of the infections were found to be caused by the resistant bacteria in patients after blood cancer chemotherapy.

Other experts said that the study's findings are a reflection of the possible future the world is facing in the midst of the prevalence of these superbugs.

"(The study) describes a future in which patients who need surgery or chemotherapy can no longer be protected from life-threatening infections by antibiotic prophylaxis," said Dr. Joshua Wolf of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Wolf added that all healthcare professionals are responsible for preventing this possibility from becoming a reality by supporting antimicrobial stewardship and the efforts to combat the evolution of superbugs.

"Increasing antibiotic resistance potentially threatens the safety and efficacy of surgical procedures and immunosuppressing chemotherapy," the authors concluded in their study.

This presents the need to acquire more data to establish new recommendations on antibiotic prophylaxis to combat the growing threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Photo: Andres Rueda | Flickr

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