BACKGROUND: The high incidence, recognition of the different variants and the important changes introduced in the methods of diagnosis of bacterial peritonitis of cirrhotic patients led the authors to study this entity according to the most up to date and standardized criteria. METHODS: The clinical-epidemiological, biological and bacteriological characteristics of 80 episodes of ascitic fluid infection (AFI) were studied. Diagnostic paracentesis was performed in all the patients and were evaluated according to a prospective study protocol. RESULTS: The patients with AFI were classified into three groups: 1) spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) (761 episodes); 2) secondary bacterial peritonitis (BP) (5 cases); and 3) bacteriascitis (BA) (4 episodes). The clinical manifestations were not specific, with absence of abdominal pain and fever in 9% of the cases. There were no clinical differences between the variants of AFI. The ascitic fluid culture was positive in 80% of the cases of SBP while it was only so in 9% of the Gram stain. Most of the cases of peritonitis were caused by Gram negative bacilli (77%), predominantly E. coli (64%). The culture was positive in 100% of the cases of BP, generally being polymicrobian, and Gram stain was positive in 67% of the cases. The inflammatory response of the ascitic fluid in the different variants of AFI was gradual, being lower in BP and nul in BA. In 52 episodes of SBP (73.8%) the infection was cured. In the group of SBP all the patients died without having resolved the peritonitis (p < 0.001). Forty-four patients (62%) with BP were discharged from hospital. A multivariate logistic regression analysis demonstrated that from a total of 32 variables analyzed, only the absence of fever (p < 0.0001), the presence of advanced hepatic encephalopathy (p < 0.0001), the presence of leukocytosis, serum bilirubin higher than 137 mumol/l, urine sodium levels lower than 10 mmol/l, the level of LDH in ascitic fluid higher than 2 microKat/l and ascitic fluid culture positivity had independent prognostic value. CONCLUSIONS: Infection of ascitic is a frequent entity. Although its variants are clinically indifferentiable, there are clear biochemical, bacteriological and evolutive differences. The mortality of ascitic fluid infection remains high. Its prognosis fundamentally depends of the degree of evolution of the hepatopathy and the severity of the peritoneal infection.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jan 1992|