Guidelines for the use of antibiotic prophylaxis in children are based on a small number of studies that assess the risk of infection associated with performing endoscopic procedures. The American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Society of Gastroenterological Endoscopy (ASGE) have established guidelines that identify conditions and procedures that place a child at greater risk for infectious complications. Because data on bacteremia and sepsis associated with endoscopy in children are very limited, we reviewed the practices of 15 large academic pediatric gastroenterology services to see if patterns of practice and safety could be determined.
A questionnaire was sent to 15 academic gastroenterology centers in the United States and Canada asking about antibiotic prophylaxis for endoscopic procedures for children with six conditions. These included three conditions related to congenital heart disease based on negligible, moderate, and high risk for endocarditis; immune compromise; the presence of a central venous line; and the presence of a ventriculo-peritoneal shunt. Six procedures were evaluated, including esophagogastroduodenoscopy with biopsy, flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy with biopsy, endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, esophageal sclerotherapy, esophageal dilation, and percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube placement.
The patterns of reported practice generally conform to the AHA and ASGE guidelines. The six conditions and six procedures yielded 36 response categories for the participating centers. The majority of centers reported routine use of antibiotic prophylaxis in about half (17) of the response categories, which represented three distinct situations. These included children with congenital heart disease having moderate or high risk for bacterial endocarditis for almost all procedure categories and children undergoing PEG tube placement regardless of underlying condition. In all other combinations of underlying conditions and procedures, the majority of centers did not use routine prophylaxis. The majority of centers did not use antibiotic prophylaxis for cardiac conditions with a negligible risk of infectious complication or for children with immunocompromise, central venous lines, or ventriculo-peritoneal shunts for any procedure except PEG placement.
These results indicate that the routine use of antibiotic prophylaxis is limited in pediatric academic centers to a few very specific conditions and procedures. The results also provide indirect evidence that the risk of infectious complications associated with endoscopic procedures appears to be exceedingly low.