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      Pathogenesis and Treatment of Ascites in Hepatic Cirrhosis

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          Abstract

          In cirrhosis of the liver structural distortion of the sinusoidal vessels is the major factor responsible for the increase in portal venous pressure and the development of abdominal ascites. The mechanisms by which advanced cirrhosis of the liver leads to widespread changes in the systemic circulation including vasodilatation, increased cardiac output and expanded plasma volume, together with activation of a range of antina-triuretic and natriuretic factors, are unclear. Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain these pathophysiological consequences, including underfilling of the systemic arterial system, overflow and peripheral vasodilatation, with a decrease in effective arterial blood volume. The evidence for and against these hypotheses is critically examined. In patients with hepatic cirrhosis complicated by ascites, increased intra-renal release of vasodilating prostaglandins may assist in sustaining renal blood flow and glomerular filtration rate by counteracting the vasoconstrictor effects of noradrenaline and angiotensin II. In advanced stages of the syndrome, cirrhotic ascites may become refractory to medical treatment. In this situation renal function becomes progressively impaired and eventually acute renal failure, so-called hepatorenal syndrome, supervenes due to intense renal vasoconstriction and opening of intrarenal arteriovenous shunts. The progressive renal vasoconstriction may also be accentuated by the reduced synthesis of renal vasodilating prostaglandins. The medical treatment of ascites is based on bed-rest, a low-sodium diet and administration of aldosterone antagonists and loop diuretics. Patients who are refractory to such therapy may be further treated by paracentesis or by the LeVeen shunt, though the long-term results of these physical therapies are unsatisfactory.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          CRD
          Cardiology
          10.1159/issn.0008-6312
          Cardiology
          S. Karger AG
          978-3-8055-6001-6
          978-3-318-01948-3
          0008-6312
          1421-9751
          1994
          1994
          18 November 2008
          : 84
          : Suppl 2
          : 68-79
          Affiliations
          Clinica Medica II, University of Florence School of, Medicine, Florence, Italy
          Article
          176459 Cardiology 1994;84:68–79
          10.1159/000176459
          7954548
          © 1994 S. Karger AG, Basel

          Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

          Page count
          Pages: 12
          Categories
          Liver Cirrhosis and Ascites: Session IIIA

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