Ascitic fluid analysis in hepatocellular carcinoma



Background. Ascites in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a poorly characterized subgroup of malignancy-related ascites. Not only the underlying liver disease, but also the tumor growth and spread contributes to the ascites formation. The authors differentiated ascites in HCC from other types of ascites.

Methods. The authors analyzed the ascitic fluid of 185 consecutive patients (89 liver cirrhosis, 33 HCC, 31 peritoneal carcinomatosis, 22 liver metastases, 10 spontaneous bacterial peritonitis).

Results. Each subgroup showed a typical pattern. Compared with the cirrhotic patients, those with HCC showed a higher frequency of positive cytologic findings (4 of 33 versus 0/89, P < 0.004), elevated fibronectin concentration (10/33 versus 8/89, P < 0.004), and elevated polymorphonuclear cell count (10/33 versus 5/89 P < 0.004).

Conclusions. A significant number of patients with ascites and HCC patients showed signs of peritoneal infiltration with positive cytologic findings and increased concentration of fibronectin. Moreover, neutrocytic ascites without signs of superinfection is relatively common (30%).