Semin Liver Dis 2008; 28(1): 026-042
DOI: 10.1055/s-2008-1040319
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Bacterial Infections, Sepsis, and Multiorgan Failure in Cirrhosis

Puneeta Tandon1 , Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao2
  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 2Section of Digestive Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, and VA-CT Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
22 February 2008 (online)


Bacterial infections are an important complication of cirrhosis, particularly in hospitalized patients. In this article we review the prevalence, risk factors, and pathogenesis of bacterial infections in cirrhosis, focusing on the mechanisms of bacterial translocation such as impaired immunity and bacterial overgrowth, as well as maneuvers that may inhibit bacterial translocation and could be used not only to prevent infections but also to ameliorate the hyperdynamic circulatory state of cirrhosis. We also review the clinical features and management of the most common infection in cirrhosis, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP), specifically the evidence behind the therapy of acute SBP, the role of albumin, and the role of antibiotics in the prophylaxis of high-risk patients. It has been recognized that SBP and other bacterial infections lead to the systemic inflammatory response syndrome, sepsis, and multiorgan failure. We review the pathogenesis and management of these complications, the role of adrenal insufficiency, and the utility of intensive care prognostic models.


Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, M.D. 

Section of Digestive Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine

333 Cedar Street, 1080 LMP, New Haven, CT 06520