Albumin best choice for prevention of circulatory dysfunction in cirrhotic patients

Administration of albumin reduces morbidity and mortality in cirrhotic patients undergoing large-volume paracentesis due to severe ascites, according to a new meta-analysis published online today in Hepatology, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. Compared with alternative treatments, albumin, a natural plasma-derived protein that expands blood plasma volume, significantly reduced the circulatory dysfunction that often occurs after large-volume paracentesis and also significantly reduced the occurrence of hyponatremia (low blood sodium levels). In addition, risk of death was 36 percent lower in patients receiving albumin than in those receiving other treatments.

"Albumin is the gold standard for preventing circulatory dysfunction following paracentesis greater than five liters. However, other volume expanders as well as vasoconstrictors have been considered as potential alternatives," said Mauro Bernardi, M.D., Professor of Internal Medicine at Bologna University, Bologna, Italy and lead author of the meta-analysis. "Our findings, which combine all the available evidence from randomized clinical trials, confirm that albumin is the best choice for prevention of circulatory dysfunction, and for the first time show decreased incidence of hyponatremia and improved survival with albumin use."

Within 10 years of receiving a diagnosis, the majority of patients with liver cirrhosis develop ascites, or fluid accumulation in the abdominal cavity. Symptoms include abdominal swelling, major discomfort and impaired breathing often necessitating hospitalization. Patients with ascites have a poor prognosis, with a 50 percent mortality rate over two years. To relieve the pressure caused by the excessive abdominal fluid, a procedure called paracentesis uses a needle to drain the fluid from the abdominal cavity. However, the abrupt removal of large amounts of fluid can worsen existing circulatory dysfunction, leading to a reduction in effective volemia that adversely affect the kidney and other organs.

The meta-analysis, which included results from 17 randomized clinical trials with 1,225 total patients, found that albumin reduced the risk of post-paracentesis circulatory dysfunction by 61 percent compared with alternative treatments. The analysis also found that the risk of hyponatremia, a condition associated with worsening brain function and death, was decreased 42 percent with albumin administration compared to other treatments, further supporting the well-accepted clinical practice of infusing albumin as the first choice in adjunctive treatment for patients requiring large-volume paracentesis.

SOURCE CSL Behring

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