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J Hepatol. 1997 Jan;26(1):88-95.

Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in patients with cirrhosis undergoing selective intestinal decontamination. A retrospective study of 229 spontaneous bacterial peritonitis episodes.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain.



Selective intestinal decontamination with norfloxacin is widely used to prevent spontaneous bacterial infections in cirrhosis. The study was performed to compare the spontaneous bacterial peritonitis occurring in patients with and without prophylactic norfloxacin.


Two hundred and twenty-nine consecutive episodes of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, (193 in patients without (Group A) and 36 in patients with norfloxacin prophylaxis (Group B)), were retrospectively analyzed. In 100 episodes (86 and 14, respectively), the responsible organism was isolated in ascitic fluid.


Clinical and laboratory data at diagnosis were comparable in both groups. There were marked differences (p < 0.001) between group A and B in the frequency of peritonitis caused by gram-negative (67.4% vs. 14.3%) and gram-positive (30.2% vs. 78.6%) bacteria. There were three polymicrobial episodes. Bacteria resistant to cefotaxime and gram-negative bacilli resistant to quinolones were isolated in ascitic fluid in nine (seven in Group A and two in Group B) and three episodes (all in Group A), respectively. No differences in the course of infection and patient survival were observed between groups.


Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in patients with and without prophylaxis with norfloxacin are not different in clinical features, response to treatment and prognosis. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis caused by gram-negative organisms resistant to quinolones is extremely uncommon in patients with cirrhosis receiving prophylactic norfloxacin.

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