Peritonitis remains the major clinical complication of peritoneal dialysis: the London, UK, peritonitis audit 2002-2003

Perit Dial Int. May-Jun 2009;29(3):297-302.


Background: Over the past two decades, the rate of peritonitis in patients treated by peritoneal dialysis (PD) has been significantly reduced. However, peritonitis remains a major complication of PD, accounting for considerable mortality and hospitalization among PD patients.

Objective: To compare the outcome of peritonitis in a large unselected group of PD patients with that from single-center and selected groups.

Method: We audited the outcome of peritonitis in PD patients attending the 12 PD units in the Thames area in 2002 and 2003. There were 538 patients on continuous ambulatory PD (CAPD) and 325 patients on automated PD (APD) and/or continuous cycling PD (CCPD) at the end of 2002, and 635 CAPD and 445 APD/CCPD patients at the end of 2003.

Results: There were 1467 episodes of PD peritonitis during the 2-year period, including 129 recurrent episodes, with the average number of months between peritonitis episodes being 14.7 for CAPD and 18.1 for APD/CCPD, p < 0.05. However there was considerable variation between units. Coagulase-negative staphylococcus (CoNS) was the most common cause, accounting for around 30% of all peritonitis episodes, including recurrences, followed by non-pseudomonas gram negatives and Staphylococcus aureus. Cure rates were 77.2% for CoNS, 46.6% for S. aureus, and 7.7% for methicillin-resistant S. aureus. The cure rate for pseudomonas was 21.4%, and other gram negatives 56.7%. In total, there were 351 episodes of culture-negative peritonitis, with an average cure rate of 76.9%. Cure rates were higher for those centers that used a combination of intraperitoneal gentamicin and cephalosporins than those centers that used oral-based regimes. A total of 296 PD catheters were removed as a direct consequence of PD peritonitis: 121 due to gram-positive and 123 due to gram-negative organisms. Only 49 catheters were reinserted and the patients returned to PD. 52 patients died during or subsequent to their episode of PD peritonitis, with an overall mortality rate of 3.5%.

Conclusion: This audit showed that, in a large unselected population of PD patients, the incidence of peritonitis was significantly greater than that reported in single-center short-term studies, and varied from unit to unit. Similarly, the success of treating PD peritonitis varied not only with the cause of the infection but also from unit to unit. PD peritonitis remains a major cause of patients discontinuing PD and switching to hemodialysis.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Gram-Positive Bacterial Infections / therapy
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / mortality
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • London
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Middle Aged
  • Peritoneal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Peritonitis / epidemiology*
  • Peritonitis / microbiology
  • Peritonitis / therapy*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents