Background: Postoperative surgical site infection is a major source of morbidity after pancreatic head resections, and data suggest bacterobilia as a leading cause. Some centers use intraoperative bile duct cultures to guide postoperative antimicrobial prophylaxis. This prospective study evaluates culture differences between traditional bile duct swab versus bile duct aspiration intraoperative samples. Methods: Prospective patients undergoing pancreatic head resection with both bile duct swab and bile duct aspiration were included. Cultures were reviewed for organism characteristics. Any growth of organisms was considered a positive culture. Bile duct swab yield and characteristics were compared with bile duct aspiration. Postoperative surgical site infection complications were compared to bile duct culture results. Results: Fifty patients were included. Bile duct aspiration resulted in a significantly higher median number of organisms compared to bile duct swab (6 vs 3; P < .001). There were no differences in the number of patients (37 vs 33) having positive bile duct aspiration and bile duct swab cultures (P = .385). Anaerobic cultures (not possible with bile duct swab) were positive in 21 patients with bile duct aspiration. A total of 37 (74%) patients had preoperative biliary stenting, which highly associated (P < .001) with positive cultures. Bile duct culture organisms correlated with postoperative surgical site infection in 12/17 (71%) patients. Conclusion: Use of bile duct aspiration improves intraoperative bile duct culture organism yield over bile duct swab and may improve tailoring of antibiotics in patients undergoing pancreatic head resection.
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