Bacterial infections, sepsis, and multiorgan failure in cirrhosis

Semin Liver Dis. 2008 Feb;28(1):26-42. doi: 10.1055/s-2008-1040319.


Bacterial infections are an important complication of cirrhosis, particularly in hospitalized patients. In this article we review the prevalence, risk factors, and pathogenesis of bacterial infections in cirrhosis, focusing on the mechanisms of bacterial translocation such as impaired immunity and bacterial overgrowth, as well as maneuvers that may inhibit bacterial translocation and could be used not only to prevent infections but also to ameliorate the hyperdynamic circulatory state of cirrhosis. We also review the clinical features and management of the most common infection in cirrhosis, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), specifically the evidence behind the therapy of acute SBP, the role of albumin, and the role of antibiotics in the prophylaxis of high-risk patients. It has been recognized that SBP and other bacterial infections lead to the systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, and multiorgan failure. We review the pathogenesis and management of these complications, the role of adrenal insufficiency, and the utility of intensive care prognostic models.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / pathogenicity
  • Bacterial Infections* / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections* / etiology
  • Bacterial Infections* / microbiology
  • Bacterial Translocation
  • Humans
  • Immunity / immunology
  • Inpatients
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications*
  • Multiple Organ Failure / epidemiology
  • Multiple Organ Failure / etiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sepsis* / epidemiology
  • Sepsis* / etiology
  • Sepsis* / microbiology
  • United States / epidemiology