Background: The most common complications after colorectal surgery, postoperative ileus, surgical site infections, and anastomotic leaks continue to occur despite advances in surgical technique and enhanced recovery pathways. Preclinical studies have documented that intestinal bacteria play a role in the development of these complication, yet human data is lacking. Here we hypothesized that patients that develop ileus, surgical site infection, and/or anastomotic leak following colorectal surgery harbor a specific preoperative gut microbiome. Methods: We performed a prospective cohort study on 101 patients undergoing colon or rectal resection at the Mayo Clinic. Rectal samples were collected preoperatively and on the ward on postoperative day two. The bacterial community from each sample was characterized by 16S rRNA and associated with the development of complications. Results: The rectal microbiome collected from patients in the operating room (p =.003) and on postoperative day two (p =.001) was significantly difference in patients whom later developed postoperative ileus compared with patients that had a normal return of bowel function. Patients whom developed ileus showed increased abundance of Bacteroides spp., Parabacteroides spp., and Ruminococcus spp., bacteria that are associated with promoting intestinal inflammation. There were no differences in the microbiome in patients that developed surgical site infections or anastomotic leaks. Conclusions: In this pilot study, patients that develop postoperative ileus harbor a specific gut microbiome during the perioperative period. These findings demonstrate that the preoperative bacterial composition may predispose patients to the development of ileus and that perioperative manipulation of the gut bacteria may provide a novel method to promote normal return of bowel function.
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