Conference Coverage

VIDEO: Study reignites dental antibiotic prophylaxis controversy



CHICAGO – The first guidelines recommending antibiotic prophylaxis for invasive dental procedures were issued in 1955, and controversy has gone hand in hand with each revision that has called for shorter treatment duration and fewer eligible patients.

A study presented at the American Heart Association scientific sessions adds to that controversy – and has prompted the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to immediately review its 2008 guidelines.

Those guidelines recommend that antibiotics should not be prescribed to prevent infective endocarditis (IE) for people undergoing dental procedures or procedures in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract, genitourinary tract, and upper and lower respiratory tract.

Five years post NICE, the new study found that antibiotic prophylaxis prescribing fell almost 90% in the United Kingdom, from 10,900 prescriptions per month to 1,307 per month in the last 6 months of the study, reported Dr. Mark Dayer of Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust, Somerset, England. The study was simultaneously published in the Lancet (2014 Nov. 18[doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)62007-9]).

In a video interview, study coauthor Dr. Martin Thornhill of the University of Sheffield, England, and AHA President-Elect Dr. Mark Creager, director of the vascular center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, talked about the findings, their potential limitations, and whether it’s time for clinicians to change their approach to antibiotic prophylaxis.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Dental and Cranofacial Research, Heart Research–UK, and Simplyhealth. Dr. Thornhill and Dr. Creager reported no conflicting interests.

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