Use of antibiotics and the prevalence of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea in patients with spinal cord injuries: An international, multi-centre study

S. Wong*, P. Santullo, S. P. Hirani, N. Kumar, J. R. Chowdhury, A. Garcia-Forcada, M. Recio, F. Paz, I. Zobina, S. Kolli, C. Kiekens, N. Draulans, E. Roels, J. Martens-Bijlsma, J. O'Driscoll, A. Jamous, M. Saif

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Little is known about the use of antibiotics and the extent of antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (AAD) in patients with spinal cord injuries (SCIs).

    Aims: To record the use of antibiotics, establish the prevalence of AAD and Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), and assess if there was any seasonal variation in antibiotic use and incidence of AAD in patients with SCIs.

    Methods: A retrospective study was conducted in six European SCI centres between October 2014 and June 2015. AAD was defined as two or more watery stools (Bristol Stool Scale type 5, 6 or 7) over 24 h.

    Findings: In total, 1267 adults (median age 54 years, 30.7% female) with SCIs (52.7% tetraplegia, 59% complete SCI) were included in this study. Among the 215 (17%) patients on antibiotics, the top three indications for antibiotics were urinary tract infections (UTIs), infected pressure ulcers and other skin infections. Thirty-two of these 215 (14.9%) patients developed AAD and two patients out of the total study population (2/1267; 0.16%) developed CDI. AAD was more common in summer than in spring, autumn or winter (30.3% vs 3.8%, 7.4% and 16.9%, respectively; P= 65 years, tetraplegia, higher body mass index, hypoalbuminaemia, polypharmacy, multiple antibiotic use and high-risk antibiotic use. Summer and winter seasons and male sex were identified as independent predictors for the development of AAD.

    Conclusion: This survey found that AAD is common in patients with SCIs, and UTI is the most common cause of infection. Summer and winter seasons and male sex are unique predictors for AAD. Both AAD and UTIs are potentially preventable; therefore, further work should focus on preventing the over-use of antibiotics, and developing strategies to improve hospital infection control measures.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)146-152
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Hospital Infection
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Oct-2017


    • Spinal cord injury centres
    • Survey
    • Clostridium difficile infection
    • RISK

    Cite this