Paracentesis is a procedure that is used to remove peritoneal fluid, or excess fluid that has built up in the abdomen. This build-up of fluid is a condition that is known as ascites and there are a number of factors that may contribute to its development, such as infection, inflammation, injury, cirrhosis or cancer. The fluid is removed from the stomach with a long, thin needle. Once removed, the fluid is sent to a laboratory so that the cause of the fluid buildup can be determined.
There are a variety of reasons for why your physician may recommend a Paracentesis procedure, including:
- For the diagnosis of the cause of the fluid buildup in the stomach
- To determine if there is an infection in the peritoneal fluid
- For the examination of certain types of cancer
- To evaluate for damage to the stomach region following an injury
- To remove any liquid that is causing pain or discomfort to the patient
In many people, ascites causes difficulty breathing, and so this could be another reason that your physician may recommend a paracentesis procedure.
The minimally invasive nature of this procedure permits it to be completed directly in your physician’s office. A local anesthetic will be applied to the area of the stomach that will receive the needle. Your positioning during this procedure depends on the amount of liquid that will be removed from your stomach area. If a large amount of liquid will be removed, then your physician will likely instruct you to lie on your back with your head lifted, but if there is less fluid then you may be instructed to sit up instead. Your physician will then use the needle to slowly remove the liquid from your stomach. If needed, an x-ray or ultrasound may be used to assist in the process by showing where the liquid is within the belly.
Generally, the entire procedure takes between 20 and 30 minutes, but may take longer if there is a large amount of liquid present. During this procedure up to one gallon of liquid is removed. If there is a large amount of liquid to be drained your doctor may recommend that you receive fluids through an IV during the course of the procedure. Most patients can return to their normal activities immediately following the procedure.