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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 2 (1991), Issue 4, Pages 147-154
Original Article

Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis: Analysis of Treatment and Outcome

Gary H Victor2 and Steven M Opal1

1Infectious Disease Division, Brown University Program in Medicine, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA
2Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA

Received 2 April 1990; Accepted 4 September 1990

Copyright © 1991 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis occurred on 44 separate occasions in 43 patients during a five year period, including 27 culture positive and 17 probable cases of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. Alcoholic liver disease was the underlying cause of 72% of cases. Of the 27 culture positive cases, Escherichia coli was the most common isolate (14 cases), followed by Klebsiella pneumoniae (three cases), group G streptococci (three cases), group B streptococci (two cases) and one case each of five other organisms. Bacteremia occurred in 50% of cases and was the same as the peritoneal isolate 88% of the time. The overall mortality rate was 65% (66% culture positive and 60% probable spontaneous bacterial peritonitis). The mean interval between onset of symptoms and death was 10.2±8.6 days in fatal cases. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis was felt to be a contributing cause of mortality in 70% of fatal cases. Survivors were younger (44±20 years versus 59±13, P<0.05) and less likely to develop renal insufficiency than nonsurvivors (38% versus 73%, P<0.05). Patients who were treated with an aminoglycoside were more likely to develop renal failure compared to those treated with nonaminoglycoside regimens (P<0.05). There was no difference in mortality rate between culture positive and culture negative spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, total peritoneal leukocyte counts, Gram-positive versus Gram-negative organisms, presence of bacteremia, or serum albumin or bilirubin levels. The mortality rate for this disease remains unacceptably high, indicating a need for the development of new strategies in the prevention, diagnosis and management of this disease.