(Ascites Fluid Tap; Abdominal Tap)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Abdominal paracentesis uses a needle to remove fluid from the belly.
Reasons for Procedure
Ascites is the build-up of fluid in the belly. This procedure may be done to:
This may need to be repeated. Fluid may return if the cause has not been treated.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
If the procedure is not being done to provide emergency care, the care team may meet with you to talk about:
Local anesthesia will be used. The area will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
A numbing medicine will be injected. Imaging may be used to help guide the needle and insert it into the belly. Fluid will be drawn out through the needle. The amount of fluid that is removed depends on why the procedure is being done.
A sample of fluid may be sent for testing.
How Long Will It Take?
About 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how much fluid needs to be removed
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common at the needle insertion site. Medicine and home care can help.
Average Hospital Stay
Most people can go home the same day. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer.
At the Care Center
You may be given pain medicines.
Most people can go back to normal activities in 24 hours. It depends on the reason why the fluid was removed.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Ascites. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ascites. Accessed November 23, 2020.
Piano S, Tonon M, et al. Management of ascites and hepatorenal syndrome. Hepatol Int. 2018 Feb;12(Suppl 1):122-134.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/16/2021
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.