ABC of Safety in the Biological Sciences
Ascites is an effusion and accumulation of serous fluid in the abdominal cavity.27 The fluid produced is referred to as an ascitic or peritoneal fluid.
Ascites is most often clear and straw-coloured. A cloudy fluid suggests infection while a blood-tinged fluid may be associated with malignancy or tuberculosis. A high protein content suggests actual damage to tissues or organs contained within the peritoneal cavity. Protein concentrations of 3-4 g per 100 ml suggest liver or systemic disease, higher concentrations suggest an infection or malignant process.
Ascitic fluids should always be treated as potentially infective and safety precautions used. Protective clothing including a long sleeved laboratory coat or gown, rubber gloves and a face mask should be worn. Use a pathogen handling cabinet, or similar safe handling unit, whenever processing an ascitic fluid. Thoroughly disinfect equipment after use and autoclave the fluid. In many countries these fluids may then be discharged into the sewerage system. Check local regulations before disposal.