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Clin Med Insights Case Rep. 2014 Jan 12;7:3-5. doi: 10.4137/CCRep.S12920. eCollection 2014.

Ascites drainage leading to intestinal adhesions at the mesentery of the small intestine with fatal outcome.

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General, Visceral and Transplant Surgery, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.


A common problem in patients with chronic liver diseases and liver cirrhosis is the development of ascites. First line therapy for ascites is the restriction of sodium intake and a diuretic treatment. Paracentesis is indicated in patients with large compromising volumes of ascites. In selected cases, permanent drainage of ascites over prolonged periods of time may be indicated. In the case presented here, a 66-year-old male patient, who was hospitalized with liver cirrhosis caused by alcoholic abuse, required permanent drainage of ascites. After three weeks of continuous ascites drainage, he developed bacterial peritonitis. Conventional attempts to remove the catheter by transcutaneous pulling failed and we thus decided to perform a median laparotomy to remove the catheter surgically. Intraoperatively an adhesion of the ascites drain (a so called 'basket catheter') to the mesentery very close to the small intestine was found, approximately 50 mm distal of the ligament suspensorium duodeni (ligament of Treitz). The basket catheter used for this patient was especially designed to drain infections, not fluids. We solved the adhesion, removed the basket catheter, placed a new surgical drain and finished the operation. The patient developed a rupture of his abdominal fascia suture 12 days later, which was caused by massive ascites and complicated by hepatorenal syndrome type I. The patient was taken to the operating theater again. After the second operation, the chronic liver failure decompensated and the patient died. Ascites caused by liver cirrhosis is still a medical challenge. The indication for the use of the correct percutaneous catheter for permanent paracentesis should be carefully considered. Some catheters are obviously not suited to drain ascites and may lead to fatal outcomes.


ascitic drainage; hepatorenal syndrome; surgery

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