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Abdominal Paracentesis


  • Abdominal paracentesis is a procedure that removes abnormal fluid buildup in your abdomen called ascites. Your abdomen is a cavity (space) that holds many organs, such as your stomach, intestines (bowels), and liver. Liver diseases, such as cirrhosis (scarring and swelling of the liver), are the most common causes of ascites. Other causes of ascites include cancer, heart failure, kidney disease, tuberculosis, and problems with your pancreas. Ascites may cause you to have stomach or chest pain, discomfort, and shortness of breath. You may have nausea (upset stomach) and vomiting (throwing up), and you may not feel like eating. The fluid buildup may make it hard for you to move around.
  • During abdominal paracentesis, a needle is inserted into your abdomen to drain the ascites fluid. To learn the cause of your ascites, your caregiver may remove a small amount of the fluid for tests. To treat your symptoms, your caregiver may remove most, or all of the fluid from your abdomen. Abdominal paracentesis may help you and your caregiver learn the cause of your ascites and choose the best treatment. Abdominal paracentesis may improve your symptoms, such as stomach pain and shortness of breath. Abdominal paracentesis may help you move better and return to your daily activities.



  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.
  • Diuretic: This medicine is often called a water pill. Diuretics may help your body get rid of extra fluid. They may help prevent getting ascites again. Diuretics may also decrease your blood pressure. You may urinate more often when taking them.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Do not drink alcohol:

Some people should not drink alcohol. These people include those with certain medical conditions or who take medicine that interacts with alcohol. Alcohol includes beer, wine, and liquor. Tell your caregiver if you drink alcohol. Ask him to help you stop drinking.

Caring for your wound at home:

Ask your caregiver when it is safe to remove your bandage, and how to care for your wound.

Eat a low-salt diet:

Eating a diet low in sodium (salt) may help prevent the ascites from coming back. You should try to eat about 1.5 to 2 grams of sodium each day, but not more. Do not add salt to your food. You should cook your own food and avoid eating ready-made foods from the store. Always read the labels on the foods you buy to find out how much sodium is in them. Ask your caregiver how much sodium you can eat, and if you need to be on a special diet.

Limit the amount of liquid you drink:

If you have problems with your kidneys, you may need to limit the amount of liquid you drink. Your caregiver may tell you to drink one liter or less of liquid each day. Limiting your liquid can help prevent getting ascites again. Ask your caregiver how much liquid you can drink each day.

Returning to your normal activities:

Ask your caregiver what activities are safe for you to do after your procedure. Ask your caregiver when you can return to your normal daily activities.


  • You have chest pain or trouble breathing that is getting worse over time.
  • You have pain in your abdomen. You may also have swelling in your abdomen.
  • Your legs and ankles get swollen.
  • Your wound becomes swollen or red, has pus coming from it, or is leaking fluid.
  • Your symptoms from ascites return, such as decreased appetite for food and shortness of breath. You may gain weight for no known reason.
  • You have questions about your procedure, condition, or care.


  • You are urinating very little or not at all.
  • You feel confused and more tired than usual.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • You have new and sudden chest pain. You may have more pain when you take deep breaths or cough. You may cough up blood.
  • You have sudden or very bad pain in your abdomen.
  • You suddenly feel lightheaded and have trouble breathing.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.