Intended for healthcare professionals
CPD modules

Managing ascites in patients with chronic liver disease

  • Peer reviewed
  • Certificate
  • Learning time: 02 hrs
  • Last updated: 2019
  • Link to RCNi Revalidation Portfolio

This learning module discusses the pathophysiology of ascites, a complication associated with long-term liver disease. The diagnosis and grading of ascites and assessment of patients with the condition are explored. In addition, the nursing and medical management of ascites is discussed, and recommendations for interdisciplinary working and education are suggested.

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Intended learning outcomes

This learning module for nurses focuses on the assessment and management of ascites in patients with chronic liver disease.

After reading this module and completing the time out activities you should be able to:

  • Describe the pathophysiology of ascites.
  • Discuss the diagnosis of the condition in patients with chronic liver disease.
  • Explain the complications that may be associated with ascites.
  • Outline the treatments and interventions used to manage the condition in patients with chronic liver disease.
  • Describe the development and treatment of refractory ascites.

This module is broken down into the following sections:

  • Aims & Intended learning outcomes
  • Introduction
  • Pathophysiology
  • Grading, assessment and diagnosis
  • Psychological effects
  • Complications
  • Nursing care
  • Management of refractory ascites
  • Conclusions


Please note that information provided by RCNi Learning is not sufficient to ensure competence in the skill. Assessment of competence should take place in line with local practice. Practice should always align with local protocols and procedures, latest guidelines and any regulatory code. All modules should currently be viewed together with available national and local Covid-19 guidelines. For advice, go to

Danielle Fullwood, Lecturer practitioner for hepatology, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London.
Anan Purushothaman, Practice development nurse, Liver Intensive Care Unit, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London.

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