Microbial infection of the pancreatic tissue in patients with severe acute pancreatitis increases the morbidity and mortality rates. Colonization of the lower gastrointestinal tract and oropharynx with Gram-negative, but sometimes also Gram-positive, bacteria precedes contamination of the pancreas. The aim of this study was to determine whether lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus plantarum 299 could prevent colonization of the gut by potential pathogens and thus reduce the endotoxaemia associated with acute pancreatitis.
Patients with acute pancreatitis were randomized into two double-blind groups. The treatment group received a freeze-dried preparation containing live L. plantarum 299 in a dose of 109 organisms, together with a substrate of oat fibre, for 1 week by nasojejunal tube. The control group received a similar preparation but the Lactobacillus was inactivated by heat.
A total of 45 patients completed the study. Twenty-two patients received treatment with live and 23 with heat-killed L. plantarum 299. Infected pancreatic necrosis and abscesses occurred in one of 22 patients in the treatment group, compared with seven of 23 in the control group (P = 0·023). The mean length of stay was 13·7 days in the treatment group versus 21·4 days in the control group (P not significant).
Supplementary L. plantarum 299 was effective in reducing pancreatic sepsis and the number of surgical interventions. © 2002 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd