Ascites

Ascites is the accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity. AscitesCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Causes

    Ascites can be caused by:


    • High blood pressure in the portal venous system, which can be caused by:


      • Liver damage called
        cirrhosis
        — This is the most common cause of ascites.
      • Heart failure
      • Blockage of the large vein in the abdomen called the vena cava
    • Malnutrition or other conditions leading to low amounts of protein in the blood
    • Certain cancers

    • Infections, such as certain bacteria and parasites or
      tuberculosis
      that can invade the abdomen
    • Pancreatitis
    • Kidney disease
    • Abdominal leakage of lymph fluid

  • Definition

    Ascites is the accumulation of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.

    Ascites
    si55551253 96472 1 Ascites
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Tests to determine cause may include:

    • Blood tests
    • Urine tests

    • Liver
      biopsy
    • Abdominal paracentesis
    • Laparoscopy

    Imaging tests look for amount and distribution of fluid, and strctures inside abdomen. These may include:

    • Ultrasound
    • CT scan
    • MRI

  • Prevention

    To decrease the risk of ascites, take the following steps to prevent cirrhosis, the most common cause of ascites:

    • Drink alcohol only in moderation. This means no more than one drink per day for women and two for men.
    • Practice safe sex to avoid hepatitis.
    • Do not share IV needles.
    • Get vaccinated for hepatitis B.
    • If you are taking medications that can damage your liver, follow your doctor's instructions closely.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that increase your chance of ascites include having any of the conditions above.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Increased abdominal circumference
    • Shortness of breath
    • Abdominal pain and/or distention
    • Pain


      on

      the side

      of the

      abdomen
    • Rapid weight gain
    • Difficulty breathing while lying flat
    • Decreased appetite
    • Heartburn

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include: