Background: Surgeons managing intra-abdominal infections should always respect the basic principles of antibiotic treatment. An adequate duration of antimicrobial therapy is important to optimize empiric therapy and minimize selective pressures favoring antimicrobial resistance. Methods: The optimal duration of antibiotic therapy for intra-abdominal infections (IAIs) has been debated in the last years. A literature research, based on PubMed database and limited to English language publications, was performed without restriction of time or type of manuscript. Results: In stable patients a short course of antimicrobial therapy (3-5 d) after adequate source control, depending on fever and leukocytosis, may be a reasonable option. In critically ill patients with severe sepsis and septic shock, an individualized approach is always mandatory and patient's inflammatory response should be monitored regularly. Procalcitonin may be helpful for guiding antibiotic treatment in critically ill surgical patients and in predicting treatment response. Conclusions: General surgeons managing intra-abdominal infections should always respect the basic principles of antibiotic treatment. Duration of antimicrobial treatment is an important variable to evaluate in treating complicated intra-abdominal infections.
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