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Ascites and Cirrhosis

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity (ascites) is the most common major complication of cirrhosis. But it's important to get treatment. People who have alcoholic cirrhosis may develop ascites early in the course of liver disease. Those who have other forms of cirrhosis, such as that caused by viral hepatitis, may develop ascites much later. The things that cause fluid to accumulate in the abdomen are complex, but high blood pressure in the portal vein system of the liver (portal hypertension) is an important contributor to its development.

Treatment for ascites depends on the cause.

Low-salt diet and medicines

About 90 out of 100 people with ascites caused by cirrhosis respond to treatment with a low-salt diet and medicines (diuretics) that eliminate extra fluid from the body.

Paracentesis

Paracentesis is a procedure used to collect and remove some of the fluid to help determine what is causing it to build up. Having ascites may lead to:

Therapeutic paracentesis may be used if you have cirrhosis and you:

Other treatments

You may also need additional treatments such as:


Credits for Ascites and Cirrhosis

Current as of: September 8, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
W. Thomas London MD - Hepatology


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