About Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Symptoms and Complications of Ascites

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

Symptoms and Complications of Ascites

Abdominal swelling, swelling of hands and feet, shortness of breath, fatigue and weakness are the usual clinical features of a patient with ascites. Infection, causing Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis is the main complication.

Advertisement

A patient with Ascites may have the following symptoms-

  • Increase in abdominal girth and swelling of the abdomen.
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Shortness of breath
Ascitis shortness of breath
Sscites fatigue
  • Frequent heartburn and fullness after eating
  • Change in bowel function
  • Back pain
Ascites back pain

On examination, the following features may be observed-

  • A full bulging abdomen is seen
  • Shifting dullness: The dull sound that the physician elicits on tapping the abdomen shifts as the patient shifts his position, indicating the presence of fluid in the abdomen.
  • Abdominal wall hernias may be present
  • Patient is undernourished and shows muscle wasting
  • The patient may show some features of portal hypertension, which include dilated veins in the palms and around the umbilicus, and enlargement of the spleen.
Advertisement

Complications

Complications of Ascites include:

1. Infection

Infection of the ascitic fluid can be spontaneous or secondary to an intra-abdominal surgical procedure.

  • Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis is a spontaneous, severe bacterial infection of the ascitic fluid without an intraabdominal cause. The bacteria spread to the ascitic fluid from the gut.

Over 90% of the ascitic fluid infections are spontaneous

  • Surgery or procedures used to drain ascitic fluid can also cause infection.
Advertisement

2. Hepatorenal Syndrome

Some patients with advanced cirrhosis and Ascites may suffer from kidney failure.

3. Hepatic Encephalopathy

This is a serious complication and is defined as an alteration in mental status and cognitive function which occurs in the presence of liver failure.

Ascites damage for brain

Certain toxins from the gut reach the brain because they cannot be removed by the sick liver. An increase in the ammonia levels play a role in causing the symptoms associated with hepatic encephalopathy.

4. Tense Ascites

Sometimes patients with ascites do not report to the physician until the pressure caused by the accumulated fluid causes difficulty in breathing. This then requires to be drained urgently.

5. Abdominal wall hernias

Umbilical or incisional hernias are common in patients with ascites. In general, these patients should avoid surgery and wear an abdominal binder.

6. Pleural Effusions

Accumulation of fluid just outside the lungs is called pleural effusion. It is common in patients with cirrhosis and ascites, especially on the right side. When it is large enough to obscure the right lung, it is called hepatic hydrothorax. Tuberculosis and pancreatitis should be considered when the effusion is left sided.

References:

  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.

Citations   close

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Vidya Viswanath. (2020, September 15). Symptoms and Complications of Ascites. Medindia. Retrieved on May 18, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/symptoms-and-complications-of-ascites.htm.

  • MLA

    Dr. Vidya Viswanath. "Symptoms and Complications of Ascites". Medindia. May 18, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/symptoms-and-complications-of-ascites.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Vidya Viswanath. "Symptoms and Complications of Ascites". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/symptoms-and-complications-of-ascites.htm. (accessed May 18, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Vidya Viswanath. 2021. Symptoms and Complications of Ascites. Medindia, viewed May 18, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/symptoms-and-complications-of-ascites.htm.


Do you wish to consult a Gastroenterologist for your problem? Ask your question

Dr. Pankaj Kumar
Dr. Pankaj Kumar
MBBS, MD, DM Gastroenterology
10 years experience
Teleconsult Now View Profile
Dr. Deshmukh Parag
Dr. Deshmukh Parag
MBBS, MD, DNB, IDCCM, CCEBDM
5 years experience
Teleconsult Now View Profile
View All

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.

Advertisement
Health Topics A - Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z



    Advertisement
    What's New on Medindia
    Black Water: Benefits and Uses
    World Hypertension Day 2022 - Measure Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer!
    Drinking This Popular Beverage May Drop Dementia Risk
    View all
    Advertisement

    Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

    Most Popular on Medindia

    Loram (2 mg) (Lorazepam) Daily Calorie Requirements Sanatogen Find a Hospital Accident and Trauma Care The Essence of Yoga Blood Donation - Recipients How to Reduce School Bag Weight - Simple Tips Drug - Food Interactions Drug Side Effects Calculator

    Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

    © All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2022

    This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use