Paracentesis is a procedure that uses a needle inserted into the
abdominal cavity to remove fluid (ascites) that collects in the abdomen.
Paracentesis can help a doctor determine the cause of ascites and diagnose
infection in the fluid (diagnostic paracentesis). It can also be used to treat
ascites (therapeutic paracentesis) and prevent the problems associated with it.
Therapeutic paracentesis may be used if you have
cirrhosis and you:
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Have severe ascites that is causing extreme
discomfort, including abdominal pain and difficulty breathing (tense ascites).
A one-time paracentesis treatment may relieve the discomfort of tense ascites
before you begin treatment with one or more
Have not responded to standard
treatment with diuretic medication and a low-salt diet. (This is the case in
fewer than 10% of people who have ascites.)1
Although paracentesis is faster than diuretic medication at removing
fluid from the abdominal cavity, it is not the preferred treatment option for
people who have ascites caused by cirrhosis. Removing large amounts of fluid at
once can cause complications, including low blood pressure and
kidney failure. If large amounts of fluid have been
removed from your abdomen, you should be given an infusion of protein (albumin)
to help prevent decreased kidney function (renal insufficiency).
If you have had paracentesis to quickly relieve ascites, you still
have to restrict your salt intake, take diuretics, and stop drinking alcohol to
help prevent the fluid from building up again.
Runyon BA (2006). Ascites and spontaneous
bacterial peritonitis. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 8th ed., vol. 2, pp.
1935-1964. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.
Primary Medical Reviewer
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
W. Thomas London, MD - Hepatology
January 22, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
January 22, 2010
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