Management of refractory ascites by using a peritoneal dialysis system with extracorporeal ultrafiltration by hemodialysis dialyzer

Noritomo Itami, Jun Kimura, Seiji Ohira, Yasushige Tsuji, Yoshio Katsuki
Peritoneal Dialysis International 2003, 23 Suppl 2: S170-4

BACKGROUND: The treatment of refractory ascites remains a challenge in cirrhosis with ascites and end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Successful experiences with continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis (CAPD) for treatment of ESRD patients with ascites secondary to liver cirrhosis have been reported, but the CAPD modality has the drawback of protein loss and was observed to cause patients to become severely malnourished. We devised a CAPD method for treatment of ascites without protein loss. We use a peritoneal dialysis (PD) system to drain ascitic fluid and to reinject concentrated ascites into the abdomen after extracorporeal ultrafiltration of the ascitic fluid using a hemodialysis dialyzer and pump. Here, we report our experience with 2 cirrhotic patients with ascites treated by this method.

PATIENTS AND METHOD: Ascites are collected by gravity through a Y transfer set into a 3-L plastic bag for intravenous hyperalimentation. The ascitic fluid drained is removed by a pump at a rate of 200 mL/min (AK-90: Gambro Lundia, Lund, Sweden) and passed through a hollow-fiber dialyzer with triacetate membrane (FB-210G: Nipro, Osaka, Japan). Heparin (5,000 U) is infused into the inflow line at the start of the session only. At the end of treatment, about 500 mL concentrated ascitic fluid is returned to the peritoneal cavity by gravity through the Y transfer set. Case 1: A 77-year-old female was referred to us because of massive ascites from hepatic cirrhosis associated with hepatitis B infection and renal insufficiency. Abdominal paracentesis was required once weekly for recurrence of massive ascites. As a result, the patient was obliged to stay in the bed almost all day, and her nutritional condition deteriorated because of poor appetite and respiratory compromise. Using the Y transfer set, we commenced using our method, and performed it thrice or twice weekly. After 9 months of treatment, the patient's body weight was being maintained at 52 kg, and her serum albumin level had risen from 2.4 g/dL to 3.4 g/dL without albumin administration. Case 2: A 61-year-old male with diabetes from the age of 51 was diagnosed with hepatitis C at age 53. At age 60, his renal function deteriorated, requiring hemodialysis (HD). After 3 months, abdominal distention was noted, and HD was frequently complicated by low blood pressure, large weight gains between HD treatments, and interruption of HD sessions. Albumin administration was required to treat the low blood pressure. Ascites was poorly controlled using HD, and tense ascites developed, requiring repeated paracentesis for comfort. At first during application of our method, ascitic fluid volume was 6 L per thrice-weekly HD session. After 5 months, ascitic fluid volume had diminished to about 2 - 3 L per HD session, and we decreased the frequency of our method to once weekly. Protein levels in the ascitic fluid were 6 g/dL at the start of treatment and decreased to 2 - 3 g/dL after 6 months. Hemodynamic instability during HD was reduced.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that management of refractory ascites by using a PD system with extracorporeal ultrafiltration by an HD dialyzer is useful. The technique compensates for the drawbacks of PD management of ESRD patients with ascites, although further experience with the technique is necessary.

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