THE OPPORTUNITIES for infection in patients after colon surgery are many and significant.1,2 The colon is the habitat of a large number and variety of bacteria whose invasive activities are normally controlled by the mucus membrane barrier of the gastrointestinal tract. Disturbances of this barrier by disease, injury, or operation permit the escape of indigenous bacteria capable of invading the peritoneal cavity, operative incision, or the blood stream with the production of a serious and sometimes life-threatening infection. Operations upon the colon may become necessary in many patients when various factors predisposing to infection exist. The importance of every practicing surgeon becoming familiar with these factors is obvious.
A cooperative study of postoperative wound infections over a 27-month period performed in five University Hospitals, including the Cincinnati General Hospital, has been previously reported.3 It was interesting to note that operations on the colon were attended by an overall