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Abdominal Paracentesis
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Abdominal Paracentesis Overview

Written by FoundHealth.


Usually, there is very little fluid in the abdominal cavity. However, there are a number of conditions that can cause fluid to accumulate in the abdomen. This is called ascites . When fluid accumulates, an abdominal paracentesis may be done. With this procedure, a needle is used to remove a sample of fluid or to drain fluid that has accumulated.

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What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor may do some or all of the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Blood tests to make sure your blood clots normally
  • X-ray —a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
  • CT scan —a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the body
  • Ultrasound —a test that uses sound waves to examine parts of the body
  • MRI scan —a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside of the abdomen

If the procedure is scheduled (rather than done in an emergency):

  • Do not eat or drink for 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Empty your bladder just before the procedure.


You will receive local anesthesia. The area will become numb. You will stay awake during the procedure.

Description of the Procedure

This is usually done in the doctor's office. In some cases, your doctor may have you go to the hospital before or after this procedure. If you are already in the hospital for a different reason, this procedure will not extend your stay.

In most cases, you will lie on your back. In some instances, you may need to be in a different position. The area where the needle will be inserted is cleaned with a solution and draped with sterile cloths. An injection of a local anesthetic will be given to numb the area. The doctor will carefully insert the needle into the abdomen. The fluid will be removed using a syringe.

The amount of fluid removed depends on your condition. If it is being done to make a diagnosis, the doctor will remove a small amount of fluid. If the procedure is being done to make you feel better, more fluid may be removed.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10-15 minutes (depending on how much fluid needs to be removed)

How Much Will It Hurt?

There will be some stinging or burning while the anesthesia is injected. Once the area is numb, you will not feel pain.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

You will stay in the recovery room for a few hours. Your blood pressure and other vital signs will be monitored. If you have a lot of fluid leakage or are having trouble breathing, you may need to stay in the care center.

At Home

  • Rest the day after your procedure.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions .



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