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Use of antimicrobial approaches at drying-off for preventing new intramammary infections (IMI) during the dry period in dairy cows could be replaced by non-antimicrobial approaches. Such approaches would be of interest not only for organic but also for conventional dairy producers. The objective of the current review was to quantify the effect of non-antimicrobial internal teat sealant (ITS)-based approaches at drying-off for treating and preventing IMI, when compared with no treatment or with an antimicrobial-based approach. The protocol for this review was published before initiating the review. A total of 18 trials from 16 articles could be used to investigate the effect of an ITS-based approach. With the available results, we conclude with a high level of confidence that non-antimicrobial ITS-based dry-off approaches are efficient for preventing new IMI during the dry period when compared with no treatment, and would reduce risk of new IMI by 52%. Moreover, we are relatively confident that a bismuth subnitrate-based ITS performed better than an antimicrobial for preventing new IMI during the dry period (a risk reduction of 23%). Similarly, we are relatively confident that an ITS-based approach would only slightly or not at all reduce the prevalence of IMI at calving compared with untreated quarters.
Most endovascular innovations have been introduced into clinical care by showing good outcomes in small enthusiastic case series of selected patients. Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have rarely been performed, except for acute ischemic stroke, but even then most trial designs were too explanatory to inform clinical decisions. In this article, we review 2 × 2 tables and forest plots that summarize RCT results to examine methodological issues in the design and interpretation of clinical studies. Research results can apply in practice when RCTs are all-inclusive, pragmatic trials. Common problems include the following: (i) using restrictive eligibility criteria in explanatory trials, instead of including the diversity of patients in need of care, which hampers future generalizability of results; (ii) ignoring an entire line of the 2 × 2 table and excluding patients who do not meet the proposed criteria of a diagnostic test in its evaluation (perfusion studies) which renders clinical inferences misleading; (iii) ignoring an entire column of the 2 × 2 table and comparing different patients treated using the same treatment instead of different treatments in the same patients (the “wrong axis” comparisons of prognostic studies and clinical experience) which leads to unjustified treatment decisions and actions; or (iv) combining all aforementioned problems (case series and epidemiological studies). The most efficient and reliable way to improve patient outcomes, after as well as long before research results are available, is to change the way we practice: to use care trials to guide care in the presence of uncertainty.
In dairy herds, application of antimicrobials at drying-off is a common mastitis control measure. This article describes a protocol for systematic review and meta-analysis to address three crucial points regarding antimicrobial usage at drying-off: (1) comparative efficacy of antimicrobials used for preventing new and eliminating existing intramammary infections (IMI); (2) comparison of selective and blanket dry cow therapy approaches in preventing new and eliminating existing IMI; and (3) assessment of the extra prevention against new IMI that can be gained from using antimicrobial-teat sealant combinations versus antimicrobials alone. Five PICO (Population, Intervention, Comparator, Outcome) questions were formulated to cover the three objectives of the review. Medline, CAB Abstracts, Web of Science, and conference proceedings will be searched along with iterative screening of references. Articles will be eligible if: (1) published after 1966; (2) written in English or French; and (3) reporting field clinical trials and observational studies, conducted on dairy cows at drying-off, with at least one antimicrobial-treated group and one IMI-related outcome. Authors will independently assess the relevance of titles and abstracts, extract data, and assess bias and the overall quality of evidence. Results will be synthesized and analyzed using pairwise and network meta-analysis. The proposed study will significantly update previously conducted reviews.