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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

Ascites is excess fluid in the lower abdomen. The fluid causes swelling in the abdomen.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Intake and output

may be measured. Healthcare providers will keep track of the amount of liquid you are getting. They also may need to know how much you are urinating. Ask healthcare providers if they need to measure or collect your urine.


is continuous monitoring of your heart rhythm. Sticky pads placed on your skin connect to an EKG machine that records your heart rhythm.


  • Diuretics help decrease the fluid in your abdomen by causing you to urinate more often.
  • Antibiotics help prevent or fight infections caused by bacteria.
  • Antiviral medicines may help prevent more damage to your liver. Liver damage happens when ascites is caused by hepatitis.


  • A neuro exam can show healthcare providers how well your brain is working during your treatment. Healthcare providers will check how your pupils react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.
  • Blood and urine tests will show how your liver and kidneys are working.
  • An ultrasound or CT may show the fluid. You may be given contrast liquid to help your organs show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.
  • A paracentesis is a procedure where a sample of fluid is taken from your abdomen for testing.
  • Other tests to find the cause of your ascites may be needed. Tests such as endoscopy, biopsy, or laparoscopy of your lower esophagus or liver may be used. These tests help healthcare providers plan the best treatment for your ascites.


  • Salt (sodium) and liquid may be limited. This will decrease the amount of fluid in your abdomen.
  • Your abdomen may be measured with a measuring tape as often as every 4 to 8 hours.
  • Paracentesis is a procedure to drain the extra fluid from your abdomen with a needle.
  • Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is a procedure used to treat large ascites when you cannot have paracentesis. Your healthcare provider uses a catheter (plastic tube) to increase blood flow through your liver. This helps to reduce the fluid in your abdomen.
  • A peritoneovenous shunt is a procedure used to drain the extra fluid into a large vein to be absorbed by the body. The shunt is a tube placed in your abdomen and connected to the vein.
  • Liver transplant may be needed if your liver damage is severe.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options


The excess fluid may affect your ability to breathe. Your swollen abdomen can make it hard to eat. Hernias may form from the pressure of the fluid. Treatment can change your electrolyte (body chemical) balance. Electrolyte changes can cause confusion, drowsiness, and thinking and movement problems that may lead to coma. You may get an infection called spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in your abdomen that can be life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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