How to improve care in outpatients with cirrhosis and ascites: a new model of care coordination by consultant hepatologists.
This guideline has been approved by the AASLD and represents the position of the Association. These recommendations provide a data-supported approach. They are based on the following: (1) formal review and analysis of the recently-published world literature on the topic (Medline search); (2) American College of Physicians Manual for Assessing Health Practices and Designing Practice Guidelines1; (3) guideline policies, including the AASLD Policy on the Development and Use of Practice Guidelines and the American Gastroenterological Association Policy Statement on Guidelines2; and (4) the author’s decades of experience caring for patients with cirrhosis and ascites. Intended for use by physicians, these recommendations suggest preferred approaches to the diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive aspects of care. They are intended to be flexible, in contrast to standards of care, which are inflexible policies to be followed in every case. Specific recommendations are based on relevant published information. Tomore fully characterize the quality of evidence supporting recommendations, the Practice Guidelines Committee of the AASLD requires a Class (reflecting benefit versus risk) and Level (assessing strength or certainty) of Evidence to be assigned and reported with each recommendation (Table 1, adapted from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association Practice Guidelines3).4 These guidelines were developed for the care of adult patients with clinically detectable ascites. Although the general approach may be applicable to children, the pediatric database is much smaller and there may be unanticipated differences between adults and children. Patients with ascites detected only by imaging modalities but not yet clinically evident are excluded because of the lack of published information regarding the natural history of this entity. A Medline search from 1966 through 2007 was performed; search terms included ascites, hepatorenal syndrome, diet therapy, drug therapy, radiotherapy, surgery, and therapy. The search involved only articles published in English and involving humans. A manual search of the author’s files and recent abstracts was also performed. The search yielded 2115 articles including 153 published since a similar search was performed in 2002 in preparation for writing the previous guideline on ascites.