Two modifications of the standard method of treatment of ascites in chronic liver disease were investigated in three separate randomised trials involving a total of 201 patients. These modifications were (1) an unrestricted sodium intake and (2) limitation of diuresis to partial removal of ascites, to the point of relief of abdominal tension. Mean serum sodium fell significantly in all patient groups receiving the low sodium diet and did not fall in the groups given an unrestricted diet. Mean serum urea nitrogen rose significantly in the patient groups undergoing complete diuresis and did not change in the groups undergoing partial diuresis. Mean serum uric acid rose only in the groups undergoing complete diuresis. We concluded that the advantages of these two modifications of therapy of ascites were increased dietary palatability and decreased likelihood of hyponatraemia and of rise in serum urea nitrogen and uric acid. Disadvantages included dissatisfaction of patients over incomplete clearing of ascites, occasional difficulty in performing diagnostic studies because of prolonged ascites, and unsuitability of a high sodium intake in patients whose ascites is highly refractory to treatment.
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