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An update on the pathogenesis and clinical management of cirrhosis with refractory ascites.

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Published:31st Mar 2019
Author: Neong SF, Adebayo D, Wong F.
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Ref.:Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019;13(4):293-305.

Introduction: Ascites commonly complicates cirrhosis, becoming refractory to treatment with diuretics and sodium restriction in approximately 10% of patients. Pathogenesis of refractory ascites (RA) is multifactorial, the common final pathway being renal hypoperfusion and avid sodium retention. Refractory ascites has a negative prognostic implication in the natural history of cirrhosis. Management of RA include sodium restriction and regular large volume paracentesis (LVP) with albumin infusions, preventing paracentesis-induced circulatory dysfunction. In appropriate setting, transjugular intrahepatic porto-systemic shunt (TIPS) can be considered. Ascites clearance with TIPS can lead to nutritional improvement, avoiding sarcopenia. Liver transplantation (LT) remains the definitive treatment for eligible candidates.

Areas covered: Our review summarizes current updates on pathogenesis and clinical management of RA including potential future therapeutic options such as the automated slow-flow ascites pump, chronic outpatient albumin infusion and cell-free and concentrated ascites reinfusion therapy.

Expert commentary: Standard of care in patients with RA include LVP with albumin replacement and prompt referral for LT where indicated. Other novel therapeutic options on the horizon include automated low-flow ascites pump and cell-free, concentrated albumin reinfusion therapy.


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