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Gastroenterology. 1991 Jun;100(6):1737-42.

Short-course versus long-course antibiotic treatment of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. A randomized controlled study of 100 patients.

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  • 1Liver Unit, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles.


In an attempt to determine the optimal duration of therapy of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, 100 patients with neutrocytic ascites and suspected spontaneous bacterial peritonitis were randomized to short-course vs. long-course treatment groups. Empiric therapy was initiated before the results of ascitic fluid culture were available. Of the 90 patients who met strict criteria for spontaneous bacterial peritonitis or culture-negative neutrocytic ascites, 43 were randomized to a group receiving 5 days and 47 to a group receiving 10 days of single-agent cefotaxime, 2 g IV every 8 hours. Infection-related mortality (0% vs. 4.3%), hospitalization mortality (32.6% vs. 42.5%), bacteriologic cure (93.1% vs. 91.2%), and recurrence of ascitic fluid infection (11.6% vs. 12.8%) were not significantly different between the 5- and 10-day treatment groups, respectively. Recurrence rates were comparable to the values reported in the literature. The cost of antibiotic and antibiotic administration were significantly lower in the short-course group. Short-course treatment of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis is as efficacious as long-course therapy and significantly less expensive.

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