Home-based drainage of refractory ascites by a permanent-tunneled peritoneal catheter can safely replace large-volume paracentesis

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Background and aim

Refractory ascites has a poor prognosis. Recurrent large-volume paracentesis is the current standard of care; however, it results in circulatory dysfunction and renal dysfunction, and hospitalization is commonly required. Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt placement is not an option in a substantial number of patients because of contraindications. The placement of a tunneled peritoneal drainage catheter has been shown to be effective in patients with malignant ascites. However, data in patients with nonmalignant refractory ascites are rare.

Patients and methods

We followed 24 consecutive patients in whom tunneled peritoneal drainage catheters were placed in the Endoscopy Unit at Hannover Medical School between June 2013 and December 2014.


Catheters were placed in 24 patients with refractory ascites in end-stage liver disease and with a contraindication to transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt placement. Placement was technically successful in all patients. The dosage of diuretics could be reduced significantly. The number of paracentesis decreased from 2.2±1 to 0 per week, although the volume of daily ascites removal remained stable (2 l). Despite frequent drainage of ascites, kidney function, serum sodium, and serum albumin remained stable. Seven adverse events occurred in six (25%) patients. Five patients listed for liver transplantation underwent successful transplantation without a negative impact.


The tunneled peritoneal drainage catheter placement is a viable and effective treatment alternative in patients with refractory ascites because of end-stage liver disease, reducing diuretic intake and the need for paracentesis. The procedure avoids hyponatremia, worsening kidney function, and albumin infusions without an increased risk of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis.

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