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Hepatology. 2006 Oct;44(4):844-9.

Effects of clonidine on diuretic response in ascitic patients with cirrhosis and activation of sympathetic nervous system.

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  • 1Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Charleroi, Hôpital Civil de Charleroi, 92, Boulevard Paul Janson, Charleroi, B-6000 Belgium.


The effects of the addition of clonidine to diuretics on the mobilization of ascites in the short term (diuretic response and requirement of diuretics) and the long term (readmissions for tense ascites and requirement of diuretics) were examined in patients with cirrhosis and with increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. We also studied neurohormonal, hemodynamic effects and side effects of clonidine and diuretics. Patients were randomized to receive placebo (group 1, n = 32) or clonidine (0.075 mg) twice daily (group 2, n = 32) for 3 months. After 8 days and for 10 days duration, spironolactone (200 mg/day) was added in both groups. After this period, the dosages of diuretics were individually increased until diuretic response. Responding patients were discharged and followed at the outpatient clinic. During the first hospitalization, the time needed for diuretic response was shorter in group 2 than in group 1. The mean requirement for diuretics was significantly higher in group 1 than in group 2, and the diuretic complications (hyperkalemia and renal impairment) were significantly lower in group 2. Clonidine induced a permanent decrease in SNS activity and delayed decrease in renin/aldosterone levels. During the follow-up, the time to the first readmission for tense ascites was shorter in group 1 than in group 2. Readmissions related to tense ascites or diuretic complications were significantly lower in group 2. The mean requirement for diuretics was significantly higher in group 1 than in group 2. In conclusion, the additional administration of clonidine to diuretics induced an earlier diuretic response associated with fewer diuretic requirements and complications.


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