Patients with severe gut infections are usually given a two-week course, but this is often unsuccessful. Twenty per cent are not cured and 10 per cent die following the infection.
Now researchers in Leeds and York are trialling a month-long course of antibiotics to establish whether it is better at clearing up the infection.
The trial is co-led by Dr Andrew Kirby, Associate Professor at the University of Leeds’ School of Medicine and a consultant in microbiology, and Dermot Burke, Associate Professor in Surgery at the Leeds’ School of Medicine.
Dr Kirby said: “There can be aversion to prescribing longer courses of antibiotics due to the risk of antimicrobial resistance to the drugs. But these infections are extremely serious and the current treatments do not work for a large proportion of patients.”
Serious infections happen when the intestine is damaged, usually by bowel surgery or disease, causing bacteria in the intestine leaking into the surrounding cavity.
The resulting infections are a leading cause of sepsis in patients on intensive care units. Sepsis kills more people in the UK than breast, bowel and prostate cancer combined.
Also, there is guidance that four days of antibiotics may be enough.
Researchers now want to establish whether a set 28-day course of antibiotics can cure these infections more effectively than a doctor deciding when to stop the course.
The trial is funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
Mr Burke said: “Intra-abdominal infections make patients feel miserable, weary and keep people in hospital for lengthy periods. Improved methods of treatment are greatly needed.”