Paracentesis is a procedure intended to remove fluid that has collected in the abdomen (peritoneal fluid). The fluid buildup is called ascites.
Causes of ascites include:
- An abdominal injury
- An abdominal infection (peritonitis)
- Scarring of the liver tissue (cirrhosis)
- Liver failure
Paracentesis can relieve abdominal pressure and pain, improve kidney and intestinal function and help patients overcome difficulty breathing. It may also be performed to check for liver cancer or other types of cancer.
For the procedure, the patient’s belly is cleaned and a local anesthetic is administered to numb the area. A long, thin needle is then carefully inserted into the belly. The excess fluid is extracted through the hollow needle. Doctors use ultrasound to show where the fluid is in the belly. If a large amount of fluid needs to be removed, the needle may be attached to a small tube that is connected to a bottle. The fluid then drains into the bottle. The procedure usually takes 20 to 30 minutes.