Ascites is the accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.
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Ascites can be caused by:
Factors that may increase your chance of ascites include having any of the conditions above.
Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests to determine cause may include:
Imaging tests look for amount and distribution of fluid, and strctures inside abdomen. These may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Diuretic medications are drugs that cause the kidneys to excrete more sodium and water in the urine. These medications are often recommended as the treatment of choice for ascites, along with sodium restriction.
Ascites can be treated by inserting a hollow needle into the abdomen and removing excess fluid through the needle.
If the other treatments are not effective and the ascites keep coming back, surgery can be done to divert blood away from the liver. If this is not successful, a liver transplant may be necessary.
To help reduce the chance of ascites:
American Liver Foundation
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Alcohol-induced liver disease. Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/alcohol. Updated October 4, 2011. Accessed June 25, 2013.
Ascites. DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 13, 2014. Accessed June 16, 2014.
Cirrhosis. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/cirrhosis/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated February 21, 2013. Accessed June 25, 2013.
Runyon BA. Care of patients with ascites. N Engl J Med. 1994;330(5):337-342.
Last reviewed February 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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