What is ascites?
Ascites is a medical term which means the accumulation of fluid within the abdomen. It is not unusual for there to be a small amount of fluid within the abdominal cavity and this is being continuously created and absorbed. Ascites develops when there is a disruption to the balance of production and removal so that the amount of fluid within the abdomen builds up. There are a number of causes for this imbalance, such as advanced liver disease and heart failure.
Ascites may develop when:
- cancer cells irritate the lining of the tummy, causing it to make too much fluid
- lymph nodes in the tummy become blocked and the fluid cannot drain properly
- cancer that has spread to the liver raises the pressure in nearby blood vessels, which forces fluid out
- the liver is damaged and cannot make enough blood proteins, so fluid leaks out of the veins into the tummy