Hemorrhagic Ascites Is Associated With Reduced Survival in Cirrhosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Umair Iqbal, Zohaib Ahmed, Hafsa Anwar, Nihit M. Shah, Wade Lee, Ali Nawras, Harshit S. Khara, Aijaz Ahmed, Sandeep Khurana


Background: Hemorrhagic ascites is characterized as red blood cell count greater than 10,000/mm3. In cirrhosis, ascites is an event of decompensation, and associated with poor prognosis. However, significance of hemorrhagic ascites is unclear. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the significance of hemorrhagic ascites in cirrhotic patients.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search in Embase, MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trial Registry, and Web of Science Core Collection to identify studies till March 2021, which, in patients with cirrhosis, compared outcomes amongst those with hemorrhagic ascites to those with non-hemorrhagic ascites. The primary outcome was 3-year mortality, and secondary outcomes were acute kidney injury (AKI), hepatic encephalopathy (HE), spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) and portal vein thrombosis (PVT).

Results: Four studies, with 2,058 cirrhosis patients, were included. Among these, 1,488 patients had non-hemorrhagic ascites and 570 had hemorrhagic ascites. We observed no significant differences in AKI (odds ratio (OR) = 2.55; confidence interval (CI): 0.58 - 11.24), HE (OR = 2.52; CI: 0.70 - 9.05), SBP (OR = 1.66; CI: 0.12 - 22.83) and PVT (OR = 0.99; CI: 0.71 - 1.39). Intensive care unit (ICU) stay was significantly higher in patients with hemorrhagic ascites compared to those with non-hemorrhagic ascites (OR = 1.79; CI: 1.37 - 2.36; I2 = 56%). Pooled 3-year mortality was significantly higher in those with hemorrhagic (72.5% (CI: 68.2-76.4%)) when compared to non-hemorrhagic ascites (57.9% (CI: 55.2-60.6%)) (OR = 2.17; CI: 1.71 - 2.74) with low heterogeneity (I2 = 15%).

Conclusions: In patients with cirrhosis, hemorrhagic ascites is a poor prognostic marker, which is associated with increased ICU stay and mortality. Prospective studies are needed to further evaluate significance of hemorrhagic ascites in patients with cirrhosis.

Gastroenterol Res. 2022;15(1):26-32
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/gr1485


Hepatic encephalopathy; Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis; Portal vein thrombosis; Acute kidney injury; Intensive care unit

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