Ascites

  • Alternative Names

    Portal hypertension - ascites


    Treatment

    The condition that causes ascites will be treated, if possible.

    Treatment may include:

    • Diuretics, or "water pills," to help remove the fluid; usually, spironolactone (Aldactone) is used first, and then furosemide (Lasix) will be added
    • Antibiotics, if an infection develops
    • Limiting salt in the diet (no more than 1,500 mg/day of sodium)
    • Avoiding drinking alcohol

    Procedures used for ascites that do not respond to medical treatment include:

    • Placing a tube into the area to remove large volumes of fluid (called a large volume paracentesis)
    • Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), which helps reroute blood around the liver

    Patients who develop end-stage liver disease, and whose ascites no longer respond to treatment will need a liver transplant.


    Support Groups


    Expectations (prognosis)


    Complications

    • Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (a life-threatening infection of the ascites fluid)
    • Hepatorenal syndrome (kidney failure)
    • Weight loss and protein malnutrition
    • Mental confusion, change in the level of alertness, or coma (hepatic encephalopathy)
    • Other complications of liver cirrhosis

    Calling your health care provider

    Anyone who has ascites and develops new abdominal pain and fever should contact their health care provider immediately.