Value of ascitic lipids and sero-ascitic gradient of albumin in the differential diagnosis of ascites.

J E Cabral, M C Leitão, C Guerra, L Tomé, M L Pinto, D Costa, G Monteiro


In order to compare its diagnostic value in the differentiation between malignant and hepatic ascites, we analysed the ascitic fluid concentrations of cholesterol (Ct) and triglycerides (Tg) and the serum-ascites albumin gradient (S-A alb grad) in 58 patients--forty one with chronic liver disease (CLD) and 17 with malignancy. In CLD group the mean values +/- SD for Ct (27.1 +/- 20.1 mg/dl), Tg (34.2 +/- 33.8 mg/dl) and S-A alb grad (1.9 +/- 0.6 g/dl) were significantly different from those obtained in malignant ascites (Ct 103.1 +/- 45.1 mg/dl; Tg 62.1 +/- 43.0 mg/dl; S-A alb grad 0.5 +/- 0.4 g/dl) (p less than 0.001 for all parameters). Application of the cutoff concentrations given in the literature revealed the following results: Ct-Sensitivity (Se) 82.4%, Specificity (Sp) 85.4%, Efficiency (E) 84.5%; Tg-Se 29.4%, Sp 95.1%, E 75.9%; S-A alb grad- Se 88.2%, Sp 97.6%, E 94.8%. The exclusion of the 4 patients with massive hepatic metastasis from malignant group by ultrasound or computer tomography gave an efficiency of 87.0% for Ct, 88.9% for Tg and 98.1% for S-A alb grad. We conclude that: 1) S-A alb grad is the best analysed parameter in the discrimination between malignant and hepatic ascites, 2) the combination with non-invasive imaging methods increases its diagnostic value.

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