-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Oct. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with kidney failure
who are undergoing dialysis sometimes develop infections at the
site where a catheter enters the body. These infections are most
often treated with antibiotics, but recently "medical-grade" honey
has emerged as a possible alternative therapy.
A new study published online this week in
The Lancet Infectious Diseases, however, finds that applying
the honey to catheter-wound sites is no more effective than taking
antibiotics for preventing infection in patients who receive
dialysis through a tube in the abdomen (called peritoneal
In addition, a high number of patients in the honey group asked
to withdraw from the study, which "suggests that patients may have
found the daily application of honey to the wound site
uncomfortable or inconvenient," study lead author David Johnson
said in journal news release.
Catheter-wound infections can be life threatening and usually
are treated with antibiotics. The types of antibiotics suitable for
use in such cases, however, work only against a narrow range of
infections, and increasingly contribute to germs becoming
Prior research has suggested that medical-grade honey -- created
by thorough sterilization of standard honey -- would be effective
against a wider range of microorganisms that cause infections and
would not contribute to antibiotic resistance.
This new study included 371 peritoneal dialysis patients treated
at 26 medical centers in Australia and New Zealand.
Johnson's team found no significant difference between those who
received a daily application of medical-grade honey at the site of
catheter insertion and those who received the antibiotic
The average time to first infection in the honey group was 16
months, compared with about 18 months in the mupirocin group. For
patients with diabetes, the average time to first infection was
much shorter in those treated with honey (11.6 months) than in
those who received the antibiotic, and the risk of infection also
was nearly twice as high as those who got the antibiotic.
"While the fact that honey doesn't contribute to antibacterial resistance makes it an attractive option for preventing infection at wound sites, our results suggest that honey cannot be routinely recommended for the prevention of infections related to peritoneal dialysis," said Johnson, of the Australasian Kidney Trials Network (University of Queensland) and Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia.
One expert in the United States agreed that medical-grade honey
may not be a better treatment option.
"At this point in time, honey cannot be recommended over conventional therapy for prevention of peritoneal-dialysis-related infections," said Dr. Mala Sacheva, a nephrologist in the division of kidney diseases and hypertension at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
"In fact, it may be inferior to conventional therapy in the diabetic population," she said. "Further studies are [needed]."
The National Kidney Foundation has more about
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