Written by Dr. Vidya Viswanath, M.B.B.S, M.D. | 
Medically Reviewed by dr. simi paknikar, MD on Sep 15, 2020

Causes of Ascites

Cirrhosis of the liver, cancer which has spread to the peritoneal cavity and tuberculosis are the most important and the commonest causes for ascites.

Common Causes of ascites are:

1. Cirrhosis of Liver.

The most common cause of ascites is cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis most commonly occurs following chronic alcoholism. Other liver conditions like chronic hepatitis can also result in Ascites following liver damage.

Ascities liver damage

2. Malignancy or cancer of the ovary, lymph nodes, breast, colon, stomach, liver and pancreas can cause fluid accumulation due to spread of the cancer to the peritoneum, the inner lining of the abdominal wall.

Ascites breast cancer

3. Tuberculosis can involve the peritoneal surface causing ascites.

Ascites lung problem

Other Causes-

1. Heart failure is a cause of ascites, which is relatively less common now due to advances in treatment of heart failure.

2. Pancreatic ascites may follow severe acute or chronic pancreatitis.

Ascites pancreas problem

3. Nephrogenous ascites is seen due to fluid overload in patients undergoing haemodialysis. Many of these patients have liver disease too.

4. Infections like Chlamydia may rarely cause Ascites.


  1. Guarner C, Runyon BA. Ascites. In: McNally PR,eds GI/Liver Secrets Plus, 4th edition, New Delhi: Elsevier, 2011:217.
  2. Runyon BA, Ascites and Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis. In: Schiff ER, Madddrey WC, Sorrell MF eds Schiff’s Diseases of the Liver, 11th edition, New Delhi: Wiley-Blackwell,2012:393
  3. Volk ML, Fisher N, Fontana RJ. Patient Knowledge About Disease Self-Management in Cirrhosis The Am J of Gastroenterol 2013 ; 108: 302-305.

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