Background & aims: Therapeutic paracentesis may be associated with a circulatory dysfunction, manifested by a marked increase of the plasma renin activity and plasma norepinephrine. The aim of the study was to characterize the systemic and hepatic hemodynamic changes associated with paracentesis-induced circulatory dysfunction.
Methods: Changes in plasma renin, aldosterone, and norepinephrine, and in systemic and hepatic hemodynamics were assessed 1 hour and 6 days after complete mobilization of ascites in 37 patients treated by total paracentesis plus intravenous dextran-70 infusion.
Results: Paracentesis-induced circulatory dysfunction occurred in 10 patients (renin and norepinephrine increased from 9.0 +/- 10.5 to 28.8 +/- 19.0 ng.mL-1.h-1 and from 752.0 +/- 364.0 to 1223.0 +/- 294.0 pg/mL, respectively) and was associated with significant reduction in systemic vascular resistance (-13.0% +/- 2.6%; P < 0.05) and increase in hepatic venous pressure gradient (from 19.5 +/- 1.5 to 22.5 +/- 2.4 mm Hg; P < 0.01). In the remaining 27 patients, mobilization of ascites also induced a significant but smaller reduction in systemic vascular resistance (-5.0% +/- 1.6%; P < 0.05) without significant changes in renin, norepinephrine, and hepatic venous pressure gradient.
Conclusions: Paracentesis-induced circulatory dysfunction is predominantly caused by an accentuation of the arteriolar vasodilation already present in untreated cirrhotic patients with ascites. The homeostatic activation of endogenous vasoactive systems may account for the increased intrahepatic vascular resistance associated with this condition.