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beta-Blockers protect against spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in cirrhotic patients: a meta-analysis.

Author(s): Senzolo M, Cholongitas E, Burra P, Leandro G, Thalheimer U, Patch D, Burroughs AK

Affiliation(s): The Royal Free Sheila Sherlock Liver Centre, Department of Surgery, London, UK.

Publication date & source: 2009-09, Liver Int., 29(8):1189-93. Epub 2009 May 1.

INTRODUCTION: Bacterial infections have been hypothetized to be a trigger of variceal bleeding in cirrhotic patients and beta-blockers may have a protective effect by decreasing bacterial translocation, reducing portal pressure. The aim of our study was to evaluate the possible role of beta-blockers in preventing spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) in patients with liver cirrhosis and ascites. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Extensive search of the literature including randomized controlled trial (RCT) and non-RCT of primary and secondary prophylaxis for variceal bleeding in cirrhotics using beta-blockers were evaluated. We performed a meta-analysis using the occurrence of SBP as endpoint in all the studies, using the random effect model. RESULTS: Three RCT and three retrospective studies in which beta-blockers were evaluated against no treatment for the prevention of SBP in ascitic cirrhotics were included. There was a statistically significant difference of 12.1%, P<0.001 in favour of propranolol in preventing SBP, which was confirmed by sensitivity analysis evaluating only RCTs (7.8% difference). The effect was still present when haemodynamic responders were compared with non-responders. CONCLUSIONS: This analysis suggests a role of beta-blockers in preventing SBP in ascitic cirrhotics, independent of haemodynamic response. Further formal RCTs are needed to confirm this finding.

Page last updated: 2009-10-20

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