Incidence of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis among asymptomatic cirrhosis patients undergoing outpatient paracentesis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 Dec 1;33(1S Suppl 1):e851-e857. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000002279.


Introduction: Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is a common complication of decompensated cirrhosis with high morbidity and mortality rate. There is a paucity of evidence regarding the incidence of SBP in asymptomatic liver cirrhosis patients undergoing routine out-patient large-volume paracentesis (LVP). The aim of this study was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis to determine the incidence of SBP among asymptomatic decompensated cirrhosis patients undergoing routine outpatient LVP.

Methods: A systematic search of Ovid Medline, Embase, Web of Science and CENTRAL electronic databases was performed in January 2021, along with a manual search of reference lists of retrieved articles. Data were extracted to determine the incidence of SBP [polymorphonuclear cells (PMNs) greater than 250 PMNs/mm3 with or without positive culture] and the incidence of all positive paracentesis (SBP or bacterascites-positive ascitic culture but no elevation in PMNs).

Results: A total of 504 studies were retrieved with 16 studies being included in the review. A total of 1532 patients were included with a total of 4016 paracentesis performed. The incidence of a positive paracentesis (SBP and/or bacterascitis) was 4% [95% confidence interval (CI), 3-6%]. However, the incidence of definite SBP was 2% (95% CI, 1-3%).

Conclusion: The incidence of SBP in asymptomatic outpatients with decompensated cirrhosis requiring LVP is low. The benefit of routine analysis of all paracentesis samples in this population is questionable. Further studies are required to determine the cost-effectiveness of routine analysis and to determine if certain subgroups are at higher risk of SBP that require routine analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Ascites / etiology
  • Ascites / microbiology
  • Ascitic Fluid / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections* / complications
  • Bacterial Infections* / diagnosis
  • Bacterial Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Liver Cirrhosis / complications
  • Liver Cirrhosis / diagnosis
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Outpatients
  • Paracentesis / adverse effects
  • Peritonitis* / diagnosis
  • Peritonitis* / epidemiology
  • Peritonitis* / etiology
  • Prospective Studies