The Management of Cirrhotic Ascites

Elaine Yeung, MD; Florence S. Wong, MD, FRCP(C)


Medscape General Medicine. 2002;4(4) 

In This Article


Ascites occurs in 50% of patients within 10 years of diagnosis of compensated cirrhosis.[1] It is a poor prognostic indicator, with a 50% 2-year survival,[2] worsening significantly to 20% to 50% at 1 year when the ascites becomes refractory to medical therapy.[3,4] Ascites also predisposes patients to life-threatening complications such as spontaneous bacterial peritonitis and hepatorenal syndrome, and therefore is a major indication for liver transplantation. Effective management of ascites requires a thorough understanding of the pathophysiology of ascites formation and the rationale for various treatment modalities.