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Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in cystic fibrosis.
  1. C F Doershuk,
  2. R C Stern
  1. Leroy W Matthews Cystic Fibrosis Center, Rainbow Babies, Cleveland, Ohio.


    Bacterial peritonitis presents with classic symptoms of fever and abdominal pain. Some patients, however, are completely asymptomatic. Death in the short term is considerable, especially in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Cystic fibrosis patients occasionally develop biliary cirrhosis and may have secondary hypersplenism, varices, and ascites. These patients should be at risk for spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis is described in two patients with longstanding hepatic cirrhosis secondary to cystic fibrosis. Both had required splenectomy for complications of portal hypertension. This is a previously unreported, but potentially fatal, complication of cystic fibrosis liver disease. Early diagnostic paracentesis is essential so that appropriate acute management, including antimicrobial treatment can be started. In the long term, these patients deserve immediate paracentesis for any evidence of recurrence. Whether the patient is treated with chronic (continuous) antimicrobial prophylaxis or only receives antimicrobial treatment during periods when bacteraemia is possible (for example, dental work, bronchoscopy), it would seem reasonable in patients with cystic fibrosis to use a wide spectrum antimicrobial agent with activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, other common Gram negative organisms, and Staphylococcus aureus.

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