Background: Paracentesis for malignant ascites is usually performed as an in-patient procedure, with a median length of stay (LoS) of 3-5 days, with intermittent clamping of the drain due to a perceived risk of hypotension. In this study, we assessed the safety of free drainage and the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of daycase paracentesis.
Method: Ovarian cancer admissions at Hammersmith Hospital between July and October 2009 were audited (Stage 1). A total of 21 patients (Stage 2) subsequently underwent paracentesis with free drainage of ascites without intermittent clamping (October 2010-January 2011). Finally, 13 patients (19 paracenteses, Stage 3), were drained as a daycase (May-December 2011).
Results: Of 67 patients (Stage 1), 22% of admissions and 18% of bed-days were for paracentesis, with a median LoS of 4 days. In all, 81% of patients (Stage 2) drained completely without hypotension. Of four patients with hypotension, none was tachycardic or symptomatic. Daycase paracentesis achieved complete ascites drainage without complications, or the need for in-patient admission in 94.7% of cases (Stage 3), and cost £954 compared with £1473 for in-patient drainage.
Conclusions: Free drainage of malignant ascites is safe. Daycase paracentesis is feasible, cost-effective and reduces hospital admissions, and potentially represents the standard of care for patients with malignant ascites.
© 2012 Cancer Research UK