, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 561-565

Prevalence and prognostic significance of bacterascites in cirrhosis with ascites

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Abstract

The prevalence and prognostic significance of bacterascites (BA) were prospectively studied in 443 predominantly HBsAg-positive cirrhotic patients with ascites. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), culture-negative neutrocytic ascites (CNNA), and BA were identified in 12.4%, 8.4%, and 10.8%, respectively. Of these, 67%, 70%, and 71%, respectively, had peritonitis-related signs or symptoms. Among patients with SBP or CNNA, the clinical and laboratory data showed no significant difference between the symptomatic and asymptomatic groups. In contrast, among the patients with BA, the symptomatic group had significantly higher levels of serum total bilirubin and prolonged prothrombin time and significantly lower levels of ascitic fluid total protein than the asymptomatic group. Furthermore, the clinical and laboratory data were relatively similar between patients with asymptomatic BA and those with sterile ascites. In contrast, patients with SBP, CNNA, or symptomatic BA exhibited significantly more severe degrees of liver disease and significantly lower levels of ascitic fluid total protein than those with sterile ascites. There was no statistically significant difference between SBP and bacterascites regarding flora. All patients with SBP, CNNA, or symptomatic BA received antibiotic treatment immediately after paracentesis, as did six of the 14 patients with asymptomatic BA for concurrent respiratory or urinary tract infection, while the remaining eight patients with asymptomatic BA were followed clinically without treatment. Repeated paracentesis in the latter revealed no evidence of SBP or CNNA. The in-hospital mortality for sterile ascites was 22.8%, significantly lower than the 54.5% for SBP, 43.2% for CNNA, and 50% for symptomatic BA, but similar to the 21.4% for asymptomatic BA. In conclusion, 11% of cirrhotic patients with ascites had BA as a complication. Of these, 71% were symptomatic and 29% were asymptomatic. The former might be an SBP variant, while the latter might represent transient colonization of ascitic fluid with bacteria.