- Perform a diagnostic paracentesis in:
- Any patient with symptoms or signs of infection, renal dysfunction or encephalopathy.
- All patients at presentation to ER, even if asymptomatic.
- The mainstay of therapy for ascites are sodium restriction and diuretics. spironolactone and furosemide are often given in combination in a ratio of 50 mg (spironolactone) to 20 mg (furosemide). In cases of mild ascites, spironolactone monotherapy may be enough.
- Large volume paracentesis (≥ 5 L drained) is required for tense or refractory ascites. Give IV albumin (100 cc of 25% albumin (25 grams) for every 3 L ascites removed). With renal insufficiency or hypotension, be more cautious with the amount of fluid that is drained off.
- Patients with ascites may be candidates for a Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) or for liver transplantation.
- Non-selective beta blockers (NSBB’s) and other blood pressure lowering medications may need to be adjusted in patients with ascites
- Connect Care Order panels
- Connect Care General Cirrhosis Admission and Discharge Order Sets
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For adults with cirrhosis admitted with Ascites.
Ascites Hepatic Hydrothorax, Edema in Cirrhosis Order Panel
For adult inpatient with cirrhosis requiring paracentesis.
Inpatient Cirrhosis Paracentesis Order Panel
Thank you to Dr. Tandon, Michelle Carbonneau, and Dr. Abraldes for your efforts creating the content on this page. Check out the bottom of the page for short videos from Dr. Abraldes!
See relevant videos:
Video on the ultrasound based diagnosis and drainage of ascites
This section was adapted from content using the following evidence based resources in combination with expert consensus. The presented information is not intended to replace the independent medical or professional judgment of physicians or other health care providers in the context of individual clinical circumstances to determine a patient’s care.
Authors: Dr. Marilyn Zeman, Dr. Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, Dr. Vijey Selvarajah, Dr. Brian Buchanan, Dr. Puneeta Tandon
- EASL Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of patients with decompensated cirrhosis. J Hepatol 2018 Aug;69(2):406-460 PMID 29653741
- Introduction to the revised American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases Practice Guideline management of adult patients with ascites due to cirrhosis. Hepatology 2013 Apr;57(4):1651-3 PMID 23463403