The role of ascitic fluid collagen in the pathogenesis of the coagulopathy that follows peritoneovenous shunting was examined. Collagen was partially purified from ascitic fluid and infused into rabbits. All animals developed changes in their haemostatic profile consistent with intravascular coagulation. Aspirin therapy, for five days before the collagen infusion, prevented these changes. Seven patients undergoing a total of eight peritoneovenous shunts for intractable ascites received antiplatelet therapy (aspirin and dipyridamole) in the immediate pre- and postoperative period. After six shunts no thrombocytopenia or prolongation of clotting times developed to suggest decompensated consumptive coagulopathy. Complicating factors may have contributed to the deterioration in haemostasis in the other two patients. There was no early shunt occlusion. The results support the hypothesis that ascitic fluid collagen is important in the pathogenesis of intravascular coagulation postascitic fluid infusion and indicate that antiplatelet drugs may be of value in preventing this complication.
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