The Role of Ultrasound-Guided Therapeutic Paracentesis in an Outpatient Transitional Care Program: A Case Series

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Abstract

Background:

Patients with ascites suffer from distressing symptoms and are at high risk for readmission after hospitalization. Timely paracentesis is an important palliative tool in managing this vulnerable population. At our institution, we have developed a multidisciplinary transitional care program for patients discharged from the hospital with a wide range of complex conditions including refractory ascites.

Methods:

We present a case series of 10 patients with symptomatic ascites who were enrolled in our transitional care program and treated with ultrasound-guided therapeutic paracentesis in our clinic. Patient medical records were retrospectively reviewed to collect procedure details, outcomes, and follow-up data on emergency department (ED) visits and readmissions. Cost data were obtained from the hospital financial system.

Results:

Over the span of 9 months (September 2016 to July 2017), 22 total therapeutic paracenteses were performed on 10 unique patients in the transitional care clinic. Median age of the patient cohort was 52.5 years (range: 27-71 years). All patients reported immediate relief of ascites-related discomfort following the procedure. We did not observe any major adverse effects due to the in-clinic procedure. Nine of the 10 patients did not have any ED visits or readmissions within 30 days of discharge. The cost of performing ultrasound-guided paracentesis in the transitional care clinic was US$546.77 compared to US$978.32 when performed in the hospital.

Conclusion:

Our experience suggests that outpatient paracentesis may be a safe, feasible, and cost-effective means of providing symptom management for patients with ascites during their transition from hospital to home.

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