A Self-Directed Learning Module

Ascites refers to an abnormal accumulation of fluid within the peritoneal cavity. It is a symptom with important diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic implications. Therapeutic abdominal paracentesis is currently a decompressive treatment for this condition. Recent clinical trials have demonstrated the safety and efficacy of large volume paracentesis in adults and children. Due to the advent of diuretics, paracentesis is currently generally reserved for patients who have chronic ascites, tense ascites, or whose condition is refractory to diuretic therapy. However, paracentesis remains an important diagnostic agent for patients with new-onset ascites or to determine the presence infection.