(Ascites Fluid Tap; Abdominal Tap)
Abdominal paracentesis uses a needle to remove fluid from the belly.
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Reasons for Procedure
Ascites is the buildup of fluid in the belly. This procedure may be done to:
- Take out a sample of fluid for testing to find a cause
- Drain excess fluid
- Ease breathing problems
- Ease pain
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:
- Excess bleeding
- Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
- Blood clots
- Damage to nearby structures
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
What to Expect
Problems To Look Out For
Call your doctor if you are not getting better or you have:
- Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
- Redness, swelling, bleeding, or fluid leaking from the needle site
- Pain that you cannot control with medicine
- Breathing problems
- Chest pain
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Prior to Procedure
If the procedure is not being done to provide emergency care, the care team may meet with you to talk about:
- Anesthesia options
- Any allergies you may have
- Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
- Fasting before the procedure, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
- Whether you need a ride to and from the procedure
- Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as imaging tests
- About your paracentesis (abdominal tap). Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centrer website. Available at: https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/paracentesis-abdominal-tap.
- Ascites. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/ascites.
- Piano, S., Tonon, M., et al. Management of ascites and hepatorenal syndrome. Hepatol Int. 2018; 12 (Suppl 1): 122-134.
- Marcin Chwistek, MD
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