Prevalence, Clinical Profile, and Outcome of Ascitic Fluid Infection in Children With Liver Disease

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Pediatric literature on spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is limited. We evaluated the prevalence, subtypes, clinical profile, and effect on outcome of ascitic fluid infection (AFI) in children with liver disease.


Children with liver disease-related ascites and subjected to paracentesis were classified as no-AFI and AFI (SBP, culture-negative neutrocytic ascites [CNNA], and monomicrobial non-neutrocytic bacterascites). Clinical and laboratory parameters, in-hospital mortality, and outcome in follow-up were noted.


Two hundred sixty-two children (163 boys; age 84 [1–240] months, chronic liver disease [CLD, n = 173], non-CLD [n = 89]) were enrolled. A total of 28.6% (n = 75) had SBP/CNNA, more common in CLD than non-CLD (55/173 [31.7%] vs 20/89 [22.4%]; P = 0.1). A total of 50.6% SBP/CNNA cases were symptomatic for AFI. Gram-negative bacilli were isolated from 70% SBP cases. Twenty-five percent (18/72) CLD children with AFI had a poor hospital outcome, with INR, Child-Pugh score and gastrointestinal bleeding predicting outcome on multivariate analysis. Patients with CLD with SBP had higher in-hospital mortality (10/20 vs 5/35; P = 0.01) than those with CNNA, but similar Child-Pugh score (12[7–15] vs 11[7–14]; P = 0.1), recurrence of AFI (3/9 vs 6/24; P = 0.6) and mortality in follow-up (22.2% vs 25%; P = 0.1). Patients with CLD with SBP/CNNA had higher mortality over 1 year follow-up than no-AFI (24.2% [8/33] vs 12.2% [7/57]; P = 0.1) but the difference was not significant.


A total of 28.6% children with liver disease-related ascites have SBP/CNNA; 50% are symptomatic. Patients with CLD with SBP/CNNA have a mortality of 24% over 1year follow-up. CLD with SBP is similar to CNNA except for higher in-hospital mortality.

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