Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid versus cefotaxime in the therapy of bacterial infections in cirrhotic patients

Elena Ricart, Germán Soriano, Maria Teresa Novella, Jordi Ortiz, Míriam Sàbat, Lylian Kolle, Javier Sola-Vera, Josep Miñana, Josep Maria Dedéu, Cristina Gómez, José L. Barrio, Carlos Guarner

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Background/Aim: Cefotaxime is considered the first-choice antibiotic for empirical treatment in cirrhotic patients developing bacterial infections. It has been suggested that amoxicillin-clavulanic acid could be an alternative to cefotaxime, particularly in patients developing bacterial infections while on prophylactic norfloxacin. The aim of the present study was to compare amoxicillin-clavulanic acid with cefotaxime in the treatment of bacterial infections in cirrhosis. Methods: Ninety-six hospitalized cirrhotic patients with suspicion of bacterial infection were prospectively included and randomized into two groups: one group (n=48) received amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, first intravenously 1 g-0.2 g every 8 h, and then orally 500 mg-125 mg every 8 h, and the other group (n=48) received intravenous cefotaxime 1 g every 6 h. Patients were stratified for previous prophylaxis with norfloxacin and ascitic fluid infection. Results: Sixteen patients were excluded from the analysis because bacterial infection was not demonstrated or because of secondary peritonitis. Therefore, 38 patients from the amoxicillin-clavulanic acid group and 42 from the cefotaxime group were finally analyzed. There were 24 ascitic fluid infections in each group. Infection resolution (86.8% vs 88%, 95% CI: -0.15 to 0.13, p NS), spontaneous bacterial peritonitis resolution (87.5% vs 83.3%, 95% CI: -0.15 to 0.24, p NS), duration of treatment, incidence of complications, time of hospitalization and hospital mortality were similar in both groups. Considering patients on prophylactic norfloxacin, infection resolution was also similar (100% vs 83.3%, 95% CI: - 0.04 to 0.37, p NS). No adverse events were observed in either of the two groups. The cost of antibiotics was statistically lower in the amoxicillin- clavulanic acid group (p<0.001). Conclusions: Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid is as effective as cefotaxime in the treatment of bacterial infections in cirrhotic patients, but is less expensive and can be administered orally. These results suggest that amoxicillin-clavulanic acid is an effective alternative to cefotaxime for the empirical treatment of bacterial infections in cirrhosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)596-602
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


  • Amoxicillin-clavulanic acid
  • Bacterial infections
  • Cefotaxime
  • Cirrhosis
  • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis


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