Bacterial infections in cirrhosis: a narrative review and key points for clinical practice


Bacterial infections are frequent complications of liver cirrhosis, accounting for severe clinical courses, and increased mortality. The reduction of the negative clinical impact of infections may be achieved by a combination of prophylactic measures to reduce the occurrence, early identification, and management. Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), urinary tract infections, pneumonia, cellulitis, and spontaneous bacteremia are frequent in cirrhosis. The choice of initial empirical antimicrobial therapy should be based on both site, severity, and origin of infection (community-acquired, nosocomial, or healthcare-associated) and on antibiotic resistance patterns. 3rd generation cephalosporins are generally indicated as empirical therapy in most community-acquired cases. However, for nosocomial and healthcare-associated infections, due to a high rate of multidrug-resistant (MDR) pathogens, a broader spectrum treatment is appropriate. In order to prevent antibiotic resistance emergence, microbiological cultures should be collected, and a de-escalation applied when antimicrobial susceptibility tests are available. Standard measures to prevent infections and the identification of carriers of MDR bacteria are essential strategies to prevent infections in cirrhosis. Antibiotic prophylaxis should be applied only to gastrointestinal bleeding, SBP recurrence prevention, and cirrhotics at high risk of a first episode of SBP.



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Liver cirrhosis, bacterial infection, multiresistant bacteria.
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How to Cite
Mitra, M., Mancuso, A., Politi, F., & Maringhini, A. (2020). Bacterial infections in cirrhosis: a narrative review and key points for clinical practice. Italian Journal of Medicine, 14(3), 126-135.