Delayed paracentesis is associated with increased in-hospital mortality in patients with spontaneous bacterial peritonitis

Am J Gastroenterol. 2014 Sep;109(9):1436-42. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2014.212. Epub 2014 Aug 5.


Objectives: Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is associated with high mortality. Early paracentesis (EP) is essential for rapid diagnosis and optimal treatment. The aim of the study is to compare the outcomes of patients with SBP who received EP vs. delayed paracentesis (DP).

Methods: Consecutive patients who were diagnosed with SBP (ascites neutrophil count ≥250 cells/mm(3) and clinical evidence of cirrhosis) <72 h from the first physician encounter at two centers were identified. EP was defined by receiving paracentesis <12 h and DP 12-72 h from hospitalization. Primary outcome was in-hospital mortality.

Results: The mean age of 239 patients with SBP was 53±10 years; mean Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score was 22±9. In all, 98 (41%) patients who received DP had a higher in-hospital mortality (27% vs. 13%, P=0.007) compared with 141 (59%) who received EP. Furthermore, DP group had longer intensive care days (4.0±9.5 vs. 1.3±4.1, P=0.008), hospital days (13.0±14.7 vs. 8.4±7.4, P=0.005), and higher 3-month mortality (28/76, 37% vs. 21/98, 21%; P=0.03) compared with the EP group. Adjusting for MELD score ≥22 (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=5.7, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.8-18.5) and creatinine levels ≥1.5 mg/dl (AOR=3.2, 95% CI=1.4-7.2), DP was associated with increased in-hospital mortality (AOR=2.7, 95% CI=1.3-4.8). Each hour delay in paracentesis was associated with a 3.3% (95% CI=1.3-5.4%) increase in in-hospital mortality after adjusting for MELD score and creatinine levels.

Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with SBP who received DP had a 2.7-fold increased risk of mortality adjusting for MELD score and renal dysfunction. Diagnostic paracentesis performed <12 h from hospitalization in patients with cirrhosis and ascites may improve short-term survival.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Ascitic Fluid / cytology
  • Bacterial Infections / complications
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Bacterial Infections / mortality
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Critical Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Delayed Diagnosis / mortality*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • End Stage Liver Disease / complications
  • End Stage Liver Disease / mortality
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils
  • Paracentesis*
  • Peritonitis / diagnosis*
  • Peritonitis / microbiology
  • Peritonitis / mortality*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Creatinine