Cirrhosis, gastrointestinal bleed, and cryptococcal peritonitis

Amy E. Barnett, Karen B. Brust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Disseminated Cryptococcus neoformans infection rarely causes peritonitis in non–HIV-infected patients but does affect cirrhotic patients. Diagnostic challenges delay treatment, and mortality is high. We performed a literature search of proven cryptococcal peritonitis cases in HIV-negative adults with underlying cirrhosis, included our own case, and collected demographic, infection risk factor, diagnostic, treatment, and outcomes data. We identified 16 articles and 21 cases. Most patients were men. Alcohol abuse was the leading cause of underlying cirrhosis (n = 10, 48%). Eight (38%) patients experienced an upper gastrointestinal bleed (UGIB) within a month before peritonitis presentation. Peritoneal fluid analysis was abnormal and lymphocytic predominant. Half the patients were fungemic. When performed, peritoneal fluid cryptococcal antigen (CrAg) test results were positive. Amphotericin B was the primary treatment. Mortality was high at 76%. In conclusion, C. neoformans is an opportunistic pathogen that causes peritonitis in non-HIV, cirrhotic patients. People with recent UGIB seem to be at risk. Cryptococcus species infection should be suspected in patients with clinical signs and symptoms of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis whose lymphocytic-predominant peritoneal fluid and cultures are negative for bacterial growth. Peritoneal CrAg testing expedites diagnosis because growth on fungal media is slow. Mortality remains high, despite standard therapy with amphotericin B.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-198
Number of pages4
JournalBaylor University Medical Center Proceedings
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Cirrhosis
  • Cryptococcus
  • cryptococcal antigen
  • peritonitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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