Antifungal prophylaxis for esophageal perforation: what’s the evidence?

Elsayed H, et al. The impact of systemic fungal infection in patients with perforated oesophagus. Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2012 Nov;94(8):579-84.

“Some authors have concluded that antifungal prophylaxis could reduce mortality by 25% in non-neutropaenic critically ill patients and should be given prophylactically to patients at increased risk of invasive fungal infections.24 Patients with oesophageal perforation, the majority of whom are managed initially on critical care units, have several factors that increase their risk of secondary candidal infection including prolonged antibiotic use, surgery and being on total parental nutrition as well as a possible higher rate of candidal colonisation. As a result, this makes them ideal candidates for empirical antifungal therapy from diagnosis. This is the routine practice in our hospital now.

Until a randomised study comparing administration of antifungal versus no antifungal therapy proves empirically that there is no benefit of adding this medication, antifungal prophylaxis should be standard in patients with a ruptured oesophagus once diagnosed. We appreciate the limitation of this study in terms of the number of patients (27) but as a ruptured oesophagus is a rare presentation, it would be difficult to have a randomised study with a large number of patients.” (p. 583)

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