Effect of a diet with unrestricted sodium on ascites in patients with hepatic cirrhosis

Gut Liver. 2012 Jul;6(3):355-61. doi: 10.5009/gnl.2012.6.3.355. Epub 2012 Jul 12.


Background/aims: There has been debate on whether a sodium-restricted diet (SRD) should be used in cirrhotic patients with ascites in China in recent years. The purpose of this study was to compare the effect of sodium-restricted and unrestricted diets on plasma renin activity (PRA), renal blood flow (RBF) and ascites in patients with liver cirrhosis.

Methods: Two hundred cirrhotic patients with ascites were randomly divided into two groups (98 cases in the sodium-unrestricted diet [SUD] group and 102 cases in the SRD group); 95 patients (96.94%) in the SUD group and 97 patients (95.1%) in the SRD group had post-hepatitis B cirrhosis.

Results: Blood sodium and RBF were higher in SUD group than in SRD group (p<0.001), while PRA were significantly lower in SUD group than the SRD group 10 days after treatment (p<0.001). Renal impairment caused by low blood sodium was higher in SRD group than in SUD group (p<0.01). Ascites disappeared in higher proportion of patients in SUD group than in SRD group (p<0.001).

Conclusions: SUD can increase the level of blood sodium and RBF, and be beneficial to diuresis and ascite reduction and disappearance.

Keywords: Albumin; Ascites; Liver cirrhosis; Renal circulation; Sodium-unrestricted diet.