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Ascites is an accumulation of fluid within the space between the lining of the abdomen and nearby organs. Ascites causes include:
- a low nutritional state, leading to a low blood level of the liver protein albumin, important in regulating blood volume
- peritoneal carcinomatosis, widespread metastasis of cancerous tumors on the inside surfaces of the abdomen
- an obstruction or blood clot within the portal vein, which carries blood to the liver
The condition typically has been managed with diuretic medications that help the body eliminate excess water and salt, though this does not always work well. More recently, physicians have been implanting a pleurx catheter – a narrow tube that helps drain the excess fluid.
Dr. Kelvin Hong, an interventional radiologist with expertise in placing these catheters, will soon start a clinical trial for patients with ascites. The study will randomly assign patients to be treated with diuretics versus a catheter to compare outcomes.