Management of ascites

A S Yu, K Q Hu
Clinics in Liver Disease 2001, 5 (2): 541-68, viii
The evaluation of ascites includes a directed history, focused physical examination, and diagnostic paracentesis with ascitic fluid analysis. Dietary sodium restriction and oral diuretics are the mainstay of therapy for the majority of patients with cirrhotic ascites. Transjugular intrahepatic portocaval shunt has emerged as the treatment of choice for selected patients with refractory ascites, although serial large-volume paracenteses should be attempted first. Early diagnosis, broad-spectrum antibiotics, and albumin infusion contribute to the successful management of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). Referral for liver transplant evaluation should be considered at the first sign of decompensation and should not be delayed until development of ominous clinical features, such as refractory ascites and SBP.

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