Peritonitis in children with nephrotic syndrome

M. J. Gorensek, M. H. Lebel, J. D. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


In a retrospective review of 214 children with nephrotic syndrome seen at Children's Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas throughout the 20-year period from 1967 to 1986, 62 cases of primary peritonitis were identified in 37 patients (17.3% rate). Streptococcus pneumoniae was the major pathogen, accounting for 38% of the cases. An additional 27% of patients had negative culture results but were clinically responsive to penicillin. Gram-negative organisms were cultured from only 3% of patients; 5% were caused by α-streptococci and 2% each by enterococcus and anaerobes. In 23% of cases the cause was unknown. Our findings differ from the recent trend in the literature in which Gram-negative organisms associated with these infections are increasingly implicated. The incidence and bacteriology of peritonitis do not appear to have changed significantly during the 20-year period. Clinically, peritonitis was characterized by abdominal pain (98%), fever (95%), rebound tenderness (85%), and nausea and vomiting (71%). A total of 79% of patients were either in relapse or receiving steroid therapy at the time peritonitis was diagnosed; 13% had infiltrates visible on their chest radiographs. Based on our data, it seems reasonable to initiate antimicrobial therapy in nephrotic children with suspected peritonitis using a combination of penicillin plus either an aminoglycoside or a cephalosporin. This regimen should continue until culture results are available, unless Gram-positive diplococci are identified in a Gram-stained specimen of peritoneal fluid, in which case penicillin alone should suffice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-856
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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