Also known as: chylous ascites, fluid buildup.

What is ascites?

When excess fluid accumulates in the abdomen, specifically in the area between the abdominal lining and the organs in the abdomen, this is known as ascites. When the fluid buildup contains chyle (a milky-type fluid that contains lymphatic fluid and fat), this form of ascites is known as chylous ascites. It can occur for several reasons and lead to a number of complications.

What causes ascites? 

Injury to the central lymphatic system, congenital lymphatic malformations, tumors, systemic disease or infections (i.e. tuberculosis), elevated venous pressures secondary to right failure heart failure or liver failure, nephrotic syndrome and trauma can all cause ascites.


What are the symptoms of ascites?

Mild ascites may not cause any symptoms. Over time, shortness of breath and pain or bloating in the abdomen are common.

What are ascites care options? 

In many cases, treating the underlying condition helps diminish ascites. Certain medications (to remove the fluid) and lifestyle changes (like lowering salt and/or fluid intake) can help with the symptoms. A low fat/high protein diet supplemented with medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil can help in patients with chylous ascites. Withdrawing fluid from the abdomen (paracentesis) or creation of new connections between blood vessels in the liver can also help.

Reviewed by: John M. Peters, DO

This page was last updated on: December 28, 2021 02:01 PM