THURSDAY, June 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- The length of antibiotic treatment for abdominal infections can be cut in half and still be equally effective, a new study suggests.
Doing so could help efforts to battle the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, the study authors said.
The study -- led by researchers at the University of Virginia -- included more than 500 patients in the United States and Canada with abdominal infections. First, the source of the infection was treated, such as the removal of an inflamed appendix.
After surgery, half of the patients took antibiotics for eight days. The other half took antibiotics for only four days. Outcomes in both groups were similar, the study found.
"It's important for physicians to realize the most important aspect of the management of these patients is controlling the source of infection," Dr. Robert Sawyer, from the departments of surgery and anesthesiology, University of Virginia School of Medicine, said in a university news release.
"These data certainly suggest that if a good operation is performed, a short course of antibiotics may be all that is required," he concluded.
The study findings were published online recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.
"There hasn't been a lot of guidance on how long to treat intra-abdominal infections with antibiotics once you've gotten control over the source of infection," Dr. Christopher Guidry, of the university's department of surgery, said in the news release.
Guidry pointed out that overuse of antibiotics has an obvious downside.
"The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance is a problem, so anything we can do to minimize exposure is important," he added.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about antibiotics.