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A paracentesis procedure is used to remove fluid from the peritoneal cavity in the abdomen, particularly if this cannot be achieved with medication. The most common indication is ascites that has developed in patients with cirrhosis.

What to Bring

  • Your physician order (your physician may have already sent this to us)
  • Personal ID
  • Insurance Card
  • Medication List

How to Prepare

  • Wear loose comfortable clothing.
  • Please leave valuable jewelry at home.
  • Heart and Blood Pressure medications are acceptable to take with small amounts of water.
  • No pain medications 4 hours prior to procedure so consent can be obtained.
  • Notify Radiology Nurse of blood thinners/anti-platelet agents including aspirin.
  • Please inform the nurse or technologist if you are pregnant.
  • If you wear an on-body device (insulin pump, insulin regulators, Neulasta, other chemo/insulin devices, etc.), you must inform your technologist.

What to Expect

  • You will lie down on a table or bed, on your back or on your side.
  • Your healthcare provider will tap on, and feel your abdomen to decide where to insert the needle.
  • Your healthcare provider may also use an ultrasound to help decide where to insert the needle. An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of the inside of your abdomen on a TV-like screen.
  • Your healthcare provider will clean your skin and cover the area around the procedure site with a clean sheet.
  • Your healthcare provider will give you an injection of a local anesthetic to numb your skin and decrease the potential for pain or discomfort.
  • A needle will be inserted into your abdominal cavity. A syringe will be attached to the needle to remove a small amount of ascites fluid.
  • The needle will be removed once your healthcare provider has removed enough fluid for testing.
  • To remove a larger amount of fluid, a needle is inserted into your abdominal cavity. A catheter (small, thin tube) is attached to the needle and the needle is removed.
  • The catheter tubing will be attached to a suction device (gentle vacuum) to help remove the fluid.
  • The fluid will drain into a container attached to the tubing.
  • Removing large amounts of fluid may take up to 6 hours.
  • When your healthcare provider has removed enough fluid from your abdomen, he/she will remove the catheter.
  • Your wound (procedure site) will be covered with a bandage.
  • The ascites fluid may be sent to a lab for tests.

After the Procedure

The interventional nurse will give you specific instructions for care after the procedure.