This is done to find out why fluid is building up within the abdomen. By placing a needle or thin, plastic tube into the stomach region, a small sample of fluid can be removed for testing. This sample helps the doctor to figure out what may be causing the fluid build-up (ascites). If there is excess fluid in a patient’s abdomen, the doctor may also elect to remove some of it. This is very helpful if there is so much fluid that a patient is in pain and/or having trouble breathing.
There are common reasons for doing a paracentesis. They include:
- Recent fluid build-up with no clear cause.
- To help diagnose an infection.
- To help diagnose cancer.
- To remove fluid and help the patient breathe with less effort.
As with any procedure, there are risks. Some of the risks include:
- Pain – Patients may feel a poke as the doctor inserts the needle into the stomach region. Numbing drugs can be used to lessen the pain. Once the needle is in, the pain is often mild and goes away.
- Bleeding – When the doctor inserts the needle, there is a risk of piercing a blood vessel. If this happens, the bleeding is often minor and stops on its own. Patients may notice a bruise.
- Bowel injury (perforation) – Rarely, the needle punctures the bowel. Most often, the small hole seals over quickly by itself. If not, the bowel contents can spill into the abdomen and cause an infection. Surgery may be needed.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 11/05/2012
Copyright © 11/05/2012 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6339
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