Hepatology

Chronic albumin infusions to achieve diuresis in patients with ascites who are not candidates for transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS).

Trotter J, Pieramici E, Everson GT.
Dig Dis Sci. 2005 Jul;50(7):1356-60.

Division of Gastroenterology/Hepatology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA. James.Trotter@uchsc.edu

While transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is a common therapy for cirrhotic patients with diuretic-resistant or diuretic-refractory ascites, some patients are unsuitable for the procedure for technical or medical reasons.

We report our experience with the use of chronic intravenous albumin infusions to achieve diuresis in this difficult patient population and review the historic experience of chronic albumin infusions as a treatment for ascites. Nineteen patients with cirrhosis and diuretic-resistant or diuretic-refractory ascites who were deemed unsuitable for TIPS received outpatient intravenous albumin infusions (50 g) weekly for at least 4 weeks. The following endpoints were retrospectively recorded: serum sodium, serum creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, hematocrit, bilirubin, albumin, international normalized ratio, body weight, and Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score. The contraindicatoins for TIPS included the following: portal vein thrombosis, two; advanced age, one; encephalopathy, nine; hyperbilirubinemia, five; and other, two. Compared to pretreatment, posttreatment weight decreased in 17 patients, remained unchanged in 0 patients, and increased in 2 patients. The overall mean change in body weight (before vs. after therapy) was 8 lb (P < 0.05). The only significant change in biochemistries was an increase in serum albumin from 2.5 g/dl before therapy to 3.5 g/dl after therapy (P < 0.05). We conclude that (1) recurrent intravenous weekly albumin infusions resulted in significant loss of edema and ascites as measured by loss of body weight, and (2) clinicians may want to consider chronic albumin infusions for selected patients with refractory ascites who are not candidates for TIPS.