Ascites is the pathologic accumulation of fluid within the peritoneal cavity. There are many causes of fetal, neonatal and pediatric ascites; however, chronic liver disease and subsequent cirrhosis remain the most common. The medical and surgical management of ascites in children is dependent on targeting the underlying etiology. Broad categories of management strategies include: sodium restriction, diuresis, paracentesis, intravenous albumin, prevention and treatment of infection, surgical and endovascular shunts and liver transplantation. This review updates and expands the discussion of the unique considerations regarding the management of cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic ascites in the pediatric patient.
Keywords: ascites; cirrhosis; diuresis; hypoalbuminemia; paracentesis; pediatrics; renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system; transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.