Diuretics are considered the first-line pharmacological treatment option for ascites. Diuretic treatment begins with spironolactone and furosemide. Non-pharmacological options include salt restriction, large-volume paracentesis (LVP), transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), and peritoneovenous shunt. Ascites can be mobilized if renal sodium excretion tops 78 mmol daily (88 mmol–10 mmol daily) after restricting sodium intake to 88 mmol/day (about 2000 mg/day). The majority of patients with cirrhotic ascites respond to a combination of sodium restriction and diuretics such as spironolactone and furosemide (90%). Ascites that does not respond to sodium restriction and high-dose diuretic treatment (400 mg/day of spironolactone and 160 mg/day of furosemide) or following paracentesis is labeled refractory. Refractory ascites can be managed with large-volume paracentesis or transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Peritoneovenous shunting is considered as a third-line treatment option after all other measures such as diuretics, large-volume paracentesis, or transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt deemed unsuccessful or contraindicated. It has a high rate of shunt obstruction.
Part of the book: Ascites