• bacteremia;
  • hepatitis B;
  • liver cirrhosis

ABSTRACT— Infections are frequent in patients with liver cirrhosis, as their defenses against infectious agents are altered. But bacteremia occurring in cirrhotic patients has seldom been reported in the literature. From 1981 to 1986, we collected 197 cases with 228 episodes of bacteremia for this retrospective study. The incidence of bacteremia in cirrhotic patients was 8.8%; no significant difference was noted between cirrhotic patients with variant etiologies of HBV(+), HBV(–) and alcohol. But the incidence increased with the severity of the disease (1%, 4.8%, 17.1% in Child's A, B, C groups, respectively). Gram-negative bacteria were the predominant microorganisms of bacteremia (75.6%). Among them, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Aeromonas hydrophilia were the three most commonly detected microorganisms. Gram-positive bacterias were detected in 21.2% of patients with bacteremia, with predominance of the Streptococcus group and Staphylococcus aureus. In about 26.3% of cases the infectious sources were the same by bacteria cultures as from blood. The most common sources were spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, urinary tract infection, pneumonia and biliary tree infection. In cirrhotic patients with and without bacteremia, the mortality rate increased significantly in the bacteremia group (54.8% vs 23.2%, P<0.05). By Child's classification, the mortality of patients with classes B and C increased significantly after onset of bacteremia. There was no significant difference in mortality between bacteremic patients in the HBV(+), HBV(–) and alcohol groups. In conclusion, bacteremia is a severe complication of liver cirrhosis and a sign of a poor prognosis.