Paracentesis, also called an abdominal tap, is a procedure to remove excess fluid that has accumulated in your abdomen, creating a condition called ascites. With this procedure a needle is used to remove a sample of this fluid to figure out what is causing the fluid buildup or to draining the fluid that has accumulated. Causes may include liver cirrhosis, heart disease, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, a tumor, or bowel damage.

What to Expect

Paracentesis is a procedure that is done in a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office. You are awake for the procedure and it usually, it takes 20 to 30 minutes, but it can take longer if you have a large amount of fluid. You will be asked to empty your bladder before the procedure begins. An ultrasound device may be used to help guide the procedure if necessary. Local anesthesia (numbing medication) will be applied to help numb the skin of the abdomen where the needle will be inserted. Your blood pressure and other vital signs will be monitored. Once the fluid is drained, the needle is removed and pressure will be applied to the site to stop any leakage or bleeding.

After the Procedure

You will need to stay about 1-2 hours after the procedure to rest. Your blood pressure and other vital signs will continue to be monitored as well as your comfort level.

Risk and Complications

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to structures in the abdomen
  • Fast drop in blood pressure

At Home

Follow you doctor’s instructions. You may remove the bandage 24 hours after the procedure. Rest for the next 24 hours after the procedure.

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