Krisha McCoy, MS
Ascites is the buildup of excess fluid in the abdominal cavity.
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 the amount and distribution of fluid, and evaluate abdominal structures. These may include:
Some treatments will vary according to what is causing the ascites. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Some options include:
Diuretic medications 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
Canadian Liver Foundation
Ascites. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116330/Ascites. Updated July 1, 2014. Accessed September 27, 2016.
Ascites: A common problem in people with cirrhosis. American College of Gastroenterology website. Available at: http://patients.gi.org/topics/ascites. Updated July 2013. Accessed February 22, 2016.
Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at:
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/liver-disease/cirrhosis/Pages/facts.aspx. Updated April 2014. Accessed February 22, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
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