Uncomplicated diverticulitis patients safely avoid routine antibiotics

Key clinical point: Observation-only worked as well as routine antibiotic treatment for patients with uncomplicated diverticulitis.

Major finding: Median time to full recovery was 12 days for antibiotic-treated patients and 14 days for observation-only patients.

Data source: The DIABOLO study, which randomized 528 patients with first-time, CT-proven, acute, uncomplicated diverticulitis at 22 Dutch centers.

Disclosures: Dr. Daniels had no disclosures.




VIENNA – Patients with first-episode, uncomplicated diverticulitis can safely be managed by observation alone without routine antibiotic treatment, based on results from a prospective, controlled, multicenter Dutch trial with 528 patients.

Coupled with similar results from a 2012 Swedish randomized trial, the new findings show that an observational approach without up-front antibiotic treatment is safe and effective for routine practice for patients with a modified Hinchey stage 1 classification, the most common diverticulitis presentation, Dr. Lidewine Daniels said at the United European Gastroenterology Global Congress.

Dr. Lidewine Daniels Mitchel L. Zoler/Frontline Medical News

Dr. Lidewine Daniels

The 2012 trial, done in Sweden and Iceland, randomized 623 patients with acute, uncomplicated diverticulitis, and found no statistically significant difference in the rate of recovery without complications during 12 months of follow-up, regardless of whether or not patients received routine antibiotic treatment at the time of initial diagnosis (Br. J. Surg. 2012;99:532-9).

This approach “can now be adopted into guidelines,” said Dr. Daniels, a researcher in the surgery department at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam. This would shift current practice recommendations, such as those published earlier this year by the American College of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (Dis. Colon Rectum 2014;57:284-94), which have generally called for routine antibiotic management of these types of diverticulitis patients, Dr. Daniels said.

The DIABOLO (Multicenter Randomized Clinical Trial Investigating the Cost-effectiveness of Treatment Strategies With or Without Antibiotics for Uncomplicated Acute Diverticulitis) trial enrolled patients with CT-proven, left-sided, first-episode, uncomplicated diverticulitis at 22 Dutch centers. All patients were classified as having stage 1 disease by the modified Hinchey criteria (Int. J. Colorectal Dis. 2012;27:207-14), with about 92% of patients classified as Hinchey 1a.

The 266 patients randomized to initial antibiotic treatment began at least 2 days on intravenous treatment with amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, followed by a switch to oral delivery of the same combination when appropriate for a total of 10 days on the antibiotic.

Patients remained hospitalized until they switched from intravenous to oral treatment. The 262 patients randomized to no initial antibiotic treatment were hospitalized and observed, and received supportive treatment until they were judged ready for discharge by being able to eat a normal diet, had a temperature of less than 38 °C, and had a self-rated pain score of less than 4 on a visual analog scale of 0-10 without use of pain medication; in addition, the patient’s agreement was needed for discharge.

During 6 months of follow-up, the median time to complete recovery – defined as the criteria for hospital discharge plus a return to normal activity – occurred after a median of 12 days among patients in the antibiotic group and 14 days among those in the observation group, a difference that was not statistically significant for the study’s primary endpoint.

The results also showed no statistically significant differences between the two study arms for almost all the other outcomes assessed, including need for readmission, complications, need for surgery, morbidities, serious morbidities, and deaths. The only significant differences in outcomes were a decreased rate of hospitalization at the time of initial treatment among patients in the observation-only arm, and fewer hospitalized days among the observation-only patients.

“Observational treatment is without short- or long-term repercussions,” Dr. Daniels concluded.

Dr. Daniels had no disclosures.

On Twitter @mitchelzoler

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