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Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2001 Aug;3(4):285-92.

Infectious complications of cirrhosis.

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  • 1Gastroenterology Clinic, Naval Medical Center, 34800 Bob Wilson Drive, San Diego, CA 92134-3301, USA.


Infectious complications in cirrhotic patients can cause severe morbidity and mortality. Bacterial infections are estimated to cause up to 25% of deaths in cirrhotic patients. The most frequent are urinary tract infection, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, respiratory tract infection, and bacteremia. It has been said that cirrhosis is the most common form of acquired immunodeficiency, exceeding even AIDS. The specific risk factors for infection in cirrhotic patients are low serum albumin, gastrointestinal bleeding, intensive care unit admission for any cause, and therapeutic endoscopy. Certain infectious agents are more virulent and more common in patients with liver disease. These include Vibrio, Campylobacter, Yersinia, Plesiomonas, Enterococcus, Aeromonas, Capnocytophaga, and Listeria species, as well as organisms from other species. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis is a frequent, severe, life-threatening complication of patients with ascites. Current observations and recommendations regarding treatment and prophylaxis are reviewed. A brief synopsis of miscellaneous infections encountered in cirrhotic patients is also included.

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