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Management of refractory cirrhotic ascites: challenges and solutions

Authors Fukui H, Kawaratani H, Kaji K, Takaya H, Yoshiji H

Received 16 January 2018

Accepted for publication 17 April 2018

Published 3 July 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 55—71


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Dr Gerry Lake-Bakaar

Video abstract presented by Hiroshi Fukui.

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Hiroshi Fukui, Hideto Kawaratani, Kosuke Kaji, Hiroaki Takaya, Hitoshi Yoshiji

Department of Gastroenterology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Nara Medical University, Nara, Japan

Abstract: Among the various risky complications of liver cirrhosis, refractory ascites is associated with poor survival of cirrhotics and persistently worsens their quality of life (QOL). Major clinical guidelines worldwide define refractory ascites as ascites that cannot be managed by medical therapy either because of a lack of response to maximum doses of diuretics or because patients develop complications related to diuretic therapy that preclude the use of an effective dose of diuretics. Due to the difficulty in receiving a liver transplantation (LT), the ultimate solution for refractory ascites, most cirrhotic patients have selected the palliative therapy such as repeated serial paracentesis, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, or peritoneovenous shunt to improve their QOL. During the past several decades, new interventions and methodologies, such as indwelling peritoneal catheter, peritoneal-urinary drainage, and cell-free and concentrated ascites reinfusion therapy, have been introduced. In addition, new medical treatments with vasoconstrictors or vasopressin V2 receptor antagonists have been proposed. Both the benefits and risks of these old and new modalities have been extensively studied in relation to the pathophysiological changes in ascites formation. Although the best solution for refractory ascites is to eliminate hepatic failure either by LT or by causal treatment, the selection of the best palliative therapy for individual patients is of utmost importance, aiming at achieving the longest possible, comfortable life. This review briefly summarizes the changing landscape of variable treatment modalities for cirrhotic patients with refractory ascites, aiming at clarifying their possibilities and limitations. Evolving issues with regard to the impact of gut-derived systemic and local infection on the clinical course of cirrhotic patients have paved the way for the development of a new gut microbiome-based therapeutics. Thus, it should be further investigated whether the early therapeutic approach to gut dysbiosis provides a better solution for the management of cirrhotic ascites.

pathophysiology, nonselective beta-blockers, V2 receptor antagonists, large-volume paracentesis, peritoneovenous shunt, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, antibiotics

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