Ascites is most commonly associated with advanced liver disease, and is due to the replacement of healthy liver tissue with fibrous or scar tissue, called cirrhosis, which may causes in some cases fluid to leak from the liver and accumulate in the abdominal cavity.

There are a wide variety of causing liver tissue damaged such as alcoholic cirrhosis, hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hepatocellular carcinoma to name a few. In its early stages, ascites can usually be treated with medication (diuretics) and/or a salt-restricted diet.

However, these treatments sometimes become ineffective or are no longer tolerated by the body.  In such cases the ascites is described as being ‘refractory’ to medical therapy and it is removed by paracentesis or sometimes by the placement of a shunt called TIPS . If the above treatments are ineffective, liver transplantation may be required.

Cirrhotic Ascites

Cirrhotic ascites forms as the result of a sequence of events which are usually asymptomatic. Following the development of scar tissue within the liver, portal hypertension is likely occur.

Malignant Ascites

Malignant ascites is ascites which is caused by certain types of advanced cancer, including ovarian, breast, pancreatic, lung, liver, colon/rectum and lymphoma cancer.

Refractory Ascites

When large quantities of ascites accumulate in the abdominal cavity, the sheer volume of liquid puts pressure on the surrounding organs such as the bladder, stomach and even diaphragm.

Ascites Treatment

Physicians will attend to minimize the amount of fluid within the intraperitoneal cavity without intravascular volume depletion.