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PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e28247. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0028247. Epub 2011 Dec 1.

Seeking clarity within cloudy effluents: differentiating fungal from bacterial peritonitis in peritoneal dialysis patients.

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Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Sydney South West Pathology Service, Liverpool Hospital, Liverpool, Australia.



Fungal peritonitis is a serious complication of peritoneal dialysis (PD) therapy with the majority of patients ceasing PD permanently. The aims of this study were to identify risk factors and clinical associations that may discriminate between fungal from bacterial peritonitis.


We retrospectively identified episodes of fungal peritonitis from 2001-2010 in PD patients at Liverpool and Westmead Hospitals (Australia). Fungal peritonitis cases were matched in a 1:2 ratio with patients with bacterial peritonitis from each institution's dialysis registry, occurring closest in time to the fungal episode. Patient demographic, clinical and outcome data were obtained from the medical records.


Thirty-nine episodes of fungal peritonitis (rate of 0.02 episodes per patient-year of dialysis) were matched with 78 episodes of bacterial peritonitis. Candida species were the commonest pathogens (35/39; 90% episodes) with Candida albicans (37%), Candida parapsilosis (32%) and Candida glabrata (13%) the most frequently isolated species. Compared to bacterial peritonitis, fungal peritonitis patients had received PD for significantly longer (1133 vs. 775 catheter-days; p = 0.016), were more likely to have had previous episodes of bacterial peritonitis (51% vs. 10%; p = 0.01), and to have received prior antibacterial therapy (51% vs. 10%; p = 0.01). Patients with fungal peritonitis were less likely to have fever and abdominal pain on presentation, but had higher rates of PD catheter removal (79% vs. 22%; p<0.005), and permanent transfer to haemodialysis (87% vs. 24%; p<0.005). Hospital length of stay was significantly longer in patients with fungal peritonitis (26.1 days vs. 12.6 days; p = 0.017), but the all-cause 30-day mortality rate was similar in both groups. Fluconazole was a suitable empiric antifungal agent; with no Candida resistance detected.


Prompt recognition of clinical risk factors, initiation of antifungal therapy and removal of PD catheters are key considerations in optimising outcomes.

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