A paracentesis is a procedure that uses a hollow needle or plastic tube (catheter) to remove fluid from the abdominal cavity. A paracentesis may also be called an abdominal tap. This fluid in the abdomen pushes up your diaphragm making it difficult to breathe. This procedure is typically done in our practice.
A paracentesis is done when a person has a swollen abdomen, pain or problems breathing because there is too much fluid in the abdomen (ascites). Normally, there is little or no fluid in the abdomen. Removing the fluid helps relieve these symptoms. The fluid may be examined to help find out what is causing the ascites.
You will lie on your back on a bed that has the head slightly raised. You won’t have anything covering your abdomen. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area where the doctor will put in the hollow needle.
The doctor will use a thin, hollow needle or a catheter. The needle or catheter is pushed through the skin and muscles into the abdominal cavity. Sometimes an ultrasound is done to help the doctor find the best place to put the needle.
Once the needle or catheter is in place, the excess fluid is drained. When fluid stops draining, the needle or catheter is removed. A small bandage is used to cover the area where the needle or catheter was inserted.
Paracentesis doesn’t usually cause many side effects. Some side effects may include: