Paracentesis, also called an abdominal tap, is a procedure to remove fluid between the abdomen and spine. There’s normally little to no fluid there, but sometimes fluid builds up in this area, creating a condition called ascites. 
Sometimes paracentesis is done to remove a sample of this fluid to figure out what’s causing the buildup. Causes may include cirrhosis of the liver, heart disease, kidney disease, pancreatic disease, a tumor or bowel damage. Other times, a significant amount of fluid is drained to relieve stomach pain caused by the buildup.

what to expect

Paracentesis is a simple procedure that is done in a hospital, clinic or doctor’s office. Usually, it takes 20 to 30 minutes, but it can take longer if you have a large amount of fluid. You’re given numbing medication so you won’t feel any pain. Your doctor inserts a needle and tube (catheter) into your abdomen to remove the fluid. Small cuts (incisions) on either side of the needle insertion are sometimes done to help it go in more easily. In that case, the cuts will be closed with a stitch or two. You may need to remain lying down for a while after the procedure.
If there’s a lot of fluid buildup, paracentesis may need to be done over several appointments, because removing a large amount of fluid at once can cause the body to go into shock. You may need to have intravenous (IV) fluids during the procedure to keep your blood pressure and other vital signs stable, and you’ll be carefully monitored the whole time.

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