1University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
2Internal Medicine Residency Program, University of South Dakota, Sanford School of Medicine, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
3Avera Transplant Institute, Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Care Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Ascites in patients with end-stage liver disease and resultant portal hypertension worsens prognosis and accelerates mortality of up to 40% within one year and 50% within two years. In case of refractory ascites, median survival often does not exceed six months due to the development of complications including spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, hyponatremia and renal failure. Additionally, ascites hinders quality of life (QOL) and its management poses a challenge. Sodium restriction and diuresis are the first line treatment which may be limited by renal failure and/ or hypotension. Diuretic-resistant ascites may necessitate periodic large volume paracentesis which is invasive and provides only temporary relief. Alternatively, refractory ascites can be curtailed with creation of a trans-jugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in very selective patients due to the shunt's propensity to exacerbate hepatic encephalopathy and heart failure. The alfapump system, a novel innovation, is an investigational therapy for ascites management. It is a remotely-rechargeable, battery-operated, subcutaneously implantable device that is designed to continuously divert intraperitoneal ascites into the bladder without external components. This invention is aimed to significantly improve the QOL for patients with ascites.