We studied the use of reagent strips for diagnosis of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) in cirrhotic patients with ascites. A reagent strip for leukocyte esterase designed for the testing of urine with a colorimetric 5-grade scale (0 to 4) was used to evaluate ascitic fluid in 228 nonselected paracentesis performed in 128 cirrhotic patients. We diagnosed 52 SBP and 5 secondary bacterial peritonitis by means of polymorphonuclear cell count and classical criteria. When we considered positive a reagent strip result of 3 or 4, sensitivity was 89% (51 of 57), specificity was 99% (170 of 171), and positive predictive value was 98%. When we considered positive a reagent strip result of 2 or more, sensitivity was 96% (55 of 57), specificity was 89% (152 of 171), and negative predictive value was 99%. In conclusion, the use of reagent strips is a rapid, easy to use, and inexpensive tool for diagnosis of ascitic fluid infection. A positive result should be an indication for empirical antibiotic therapy, and a negative result may be useful as a screening test to exclude SBP. (Hepatology 2003;37:893-896.)
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