Learning About Paracentesis

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What is paracentesis?

Paracentesis (say "pair-uh-sen-TEE-sus") is a procedure that removes fluid from the belly. The buildup of fluid may be caused by infection, inflammation, an injury, or other problems.

Swelling from too much fluid may cause pain or trouble breathing. The doctor will remove the extra fluid with a needle attached to a tube.

Your doctor may remove the fluid to:

  • Diagnose infection, injury, or other conditions.
  • Relieve pressure in your belly.

How is the procedure done?

Your doctor or nurse will clean the area of your belly where the needle will go in. Then he or she will put sterile towels around the area.

You may get a shot of numbing medicine in your belly. Then your doctor will gently insert a needle where the fluid is. He or she may attach a tube (catheter) to the site to help collect the fluid. The procedure may take from a few minutes to 30 minutes or more.

After the fluid has drained, your doctor will take out the needle or catheter and put a bandage on the site.

What can you expect after the procedure?

Your doctor will watch your pulse, blood pressure, and temperature for about an hour.

If your doctor thinks that testing the fluid can help find the cause of a problem, he or she will send it to a lab.

For up to 2 days after the procedure, you may have a small amount of clear fluid coming out of the site where the needle was inserted, especially if you had a lot of fluid removed. You may need to change the bandage on the site.

You can do your normal activities after the procedure, unless your doctor tells you not to.

If fluid builds up in your belly again, your doctor may repeat this procedure.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks or pus.
    • A fever.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.
  • You have new or worse belly pain.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Fluid builds up in your belly again.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: August 9, 2016