There is evidence from preclinical models that the gut microbiome may impact outcomes from gastrointestinal surgery, and that surgery may alter the gut microbiome. However, the extent to which gastrointestinal surgery modulates the gut microbiome in clinical practice is currently poorly defined. This systematic review aims to evaluate the changes observed in the gut microbiome after gastrointestinal surgery.
A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines by screening EMBASE, MEDLINE/PubMed, Web of Science, and CENTRAL for comparative studies meeting the predetermined inclusion criteria. The primary outcome was the difference between pre and postoperative bacterial taxonomic composition and diversity metrics among patients receiving gastrointestinal surgery.
In total, 33 studies were identified including 6 randomized controlled trials and 27 prospective cohort studies reporting a total of 968 patients. Gastrointestinal surgery was associated with an increase in α diversity and a shift in β diversity postoperatively. Multiple bacterial taxa were identified to consistently trend toward an increase or decrease postoperatively. A difference in microbiota across geographic provenance was also observed. There was a distinct lack of studies showing correlation with clinical outcomes or performing microbiome functional analysis. Furthermore, there was a lack of standardization in sampling, analytical methodology, and reporting.
This review highlights changes in bacterial taxa associated with gastrointestinal surgery. There is a need for standardization of microbial analysis methods and reporting of results to allow interstudy comparison. Further adequately powered multicenter studies are required to better assess variation in microbial changes and its potential associations with clinical outcomes.

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