Use of albumin in the management of patients with decompensated cirrhosis. An independent verdict.

Arroyo V, Colmenero J.
Dig Liver Dis. 2003 Sep;35(9):668-72.
Liver Unit, Institut de Malalties Digestives, Hospital Clinic, Villarroel 170, 08036 Barcelona, Spain. arroyo@medicina.ub.es

The use of intravenous albumin in cirrhosis has been reactivated during the last two decades. During this period several investigations have shown that albumin (1) prevents circulatory dysfunction in patients with massive ascites treated by paracentesis, (2) prevents circulatory dysfunction and type-1 HRS and increases survival in patients with SBP, and (3) in association with vasoconstrictors normalizes circulatory function and serum creatinine and increases survival in patients with type-1 HRS. Indications 2 and 3 are clear. There is discussion, however, regarding indication number 1. Although no significant differences in survival have been observed in trials comparing patients treated by paracentesis with and without albumin, in none of these studies was survival an end-point of the trial. In contrast, there is evidence that paracentesis-induced circulatory dysfunction is associated with a bad outcome. In consequence, although further studies on this indication are clearly required, with the current data it is advisable to use albumin as a plasma expander in patients with massive ascites treated by paracentesis.