Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2017 July; 72(7): 405-410.

Copyright © 2017 CLINICS

Clinical Features of Refractory Ascites in Outpatients

Wanda Regina Caly , Rodrigo Martins Abreu , Bernardo Bitelman , Flair José Carrilho , Suzane Kioko Ono *

Departamento de Gastroenterologia, Divisao de Gastroenterologia e Hepatologia Clinica, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSP, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, BR

*Corresponding author. E-mail:

received October 18, 2016; revised January 12, 2017; accepted February 16, 2017.



To present the clinical features and outcomes of outpatients who suffer from refractory ascites.


This prospective observational study consecutively enrolled patients with cirrhotic ascites who submitted to a clinical evaluation, a sodium restriction diet, biochemical blood tests, 24 hour urine tests and an ascitic fluid analysis. All patients received a multidisciplinary evaluation and diuretic treatment. Patients who did not respond to the diuretic treatment were controlled by therapeutic serial paracentesis, and a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt was indicated for patients who required therapeutic serial paracentesis up to twice a month.


The most common etiology of cirrhosis in both groups was alcoholism [49 refractory (R) and 11 non-refractory ascites (NR)]. The majority of patients in the refractory group had Child-Pugh class B cirrhosis (p=0.034). The nutritional assessment showed protein-energy malnutrition in 81.6% of the patients in the R group and 35.5% of the patients in the NR group, while hepatic encephalopathy, hernia, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, upper digestive hemorrhage and type 2 hepatorenal syndrome were present in 51%, 44.9%, 38.8%, 38.8% and 26.5% of the patients in the R group and 9.1%, 18.2%, 0%, 0% and 0% of the patients in the NR group, respectively (p=0.016, p=0.173, p=0.012, p=0.012, and p=0.100, respectively). Mortality occurred in 28.6% of the patients in the R group and in 9.1% of the patients in the NR group (p=0.262).


Patients with refractory ascites were malnourished, suffered from hernias, had a high prevalence of complications and had a high postoperative death frequency, which was mostly due to infectious processes.

Keywords: Ascites, Hepatic Encephalopathy, Liver, Liver Cirrhosis, Outpatients

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