Automated low-flow ascites pump in a real-world setting: complications and outcomes

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Abstract

Background and aims

The aim of this study was to investigate the Alfapump, an automated low-flow pump system for the treatment of refractory ascites (RA) as an alternative for repeated large-volume paracentesis in patients with contraindication for placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) or liver transplantation.

Materials and methods

In 21 consecutive patients with RA and contraindication for a placement of a TIPS, the Alfapump was implanted at Hannover Medical School between December 2012 and May 2016. Repeated laboratory, clinical, and microbiology data were collected and analyzed to assess the outcome of patients with an Alfapump. Half of the patients received a modified peritoneal catheter.

Results

Twenty-one patients with RA in end-stage liver disease and with a contraindication to TIPS placement received the Alfapump. Diuretic dosages were significantly reduced, and the number of paracentesis declined from 2.3±2.7 to 0 per week. Using the Alfapump, kidney function and serum sodium remained stable. Likewise, serum albumin remained stable in the absence of albumin infusions. Thirty-three complications (dislocation and/or blockade of the catheter, infection, pump dysfunction) related to the Alfapump were observed in 15 of 21 patients (71.4%), and 21 surgical interventions were needed in 15 patients (71.4%, 1–3 interventions per patient). A new peritoneal catheter system could significantly reduce blockage of the peritoneal catheter.

Conclusion

The Alfapump is an effective treatment in patients with RA. However, a high rate of complications were observed, which could be reduced with a modified peritoneal catheter.

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