What is Ascites?

Ascites is the buildup of fluid in the abdomen. The fluid is collected in the peritoneal cavity. This fluid buildup causes swelling that usually develops over a few weeks, although it can also happen in just a few days. Liver disease is the most common cause of ascites. Other causes typically include cancer and heart failure.

What are the symptoms of ascites?

Ascites is very uncomfortable and can cause the following:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A sensation of feeling full

What imaging is done to diagnose ascites?

Ascites is commonly found on a CT Scan. Smaller pockets of fluid can also be found using ultrasound imaging.

What intervention/treatment can be performed for ascites?

Initial treatment of ascites is usually a low sodium diet and fluid restriction. If these do not decrease the ascites, an ultrasound guided paracentesis may need to be performed. Learn more about paracentesis here.

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