This is done to find out why fluid is building up within the abdomen. By placing a needle or
thin, plastic tube into the stomach region, a small sample of fluid can be removed for testing.
This sample helps the doctor to figure out what may be causing the fluid build-up (ascites). If
there is excess fluid in a patient’s abdomen, the doctor may also elect to remove some of it. This
is very helpful if there is so much fluid that a patient is in pain and/or having trouble breathing.
There are common reasons for doing a paracentesis. They include:
ξ Recent fluid build-up with no clear cause.
ξ To help diagnose an infection.
ξ To help diagnose cancer.
ξ To remove fluid and help the patient breathe with less effort.
As with any procedure, there are risks. Some of the risks include:
ξ Pain – Patients may feel a poke as the doctor inserts the needle into the stomach region.
Numbing drugs are used to lessen the pain. Once the needle is in, the pain is often mild
and goes away.
ξ Bleeding – When the doctor inserts the needle, there is a risk of piercing a blood vessel.
If this happens, the bleeding is often minor and stops on its own. Patients may notice a
ξ Bowel injury (perforation) – Rarely, the needle punctures the bowel. Most often, the
small hole seals over quickly by itself. If not, the bowel contents can spill into the
abdomen and cause an infection. Surgery may be needed.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 11/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#6339