How does ascites lead to cirrhosis?

Updated: Jul 30, 2018
  • Author: David C Wolf, MD, FACP, FACG, AGAF, FAASLD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Fluid and plasma proteins diffuse freely across the highly permeable sinusoidal endothelium into the space of Disse. Fluid in the space of Disse, in turn, enters the lymphatic channels that run within the portal and central venous areas of the liver.

Because the trans-sinusoidal oncotic gradient is approximately zero, the increased sinusoidal pressure that develops in portal hypertension increases the amount of fluid entering the space of Disse. When the increased hepatic lymph production observed in portal hypertension exceeds the ability of the cisterna chyli and thoracic duct to clear the lymph, fluid crosses into the liver interstitium. Fluid may then extravasate across the liver capsule into the peritoneal cavity.

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