What is Paracentesis?
A paracentesis is a form of body fluid sampling. A slender needle is used to withdraw fluid (peritoneal fluid) from the abdomen during a paracentesis surgery. The fluid is collected and submitted to a lab to investigate what is generating the extra fluid. It is most commonly used to diagnose an infection or for cancer patients who frequently have abdomen fluid or ascites, which can develop due to tumor pressure and cause discomfort.
Indications for Paracentesis
A paracentesis is performed when a person has a distended abdomen, pain, or difficulty breathing due to an excess of fluid in the abdomen (ascites)—the removal of the fluid aids in relieving these symptoms. To figure out what’s causing the ascites, the fluid may be sent to a laboratory for further study.
What causes ascites?
Cancer that has progressed to the lining of the organs inside the abdomen may cause fluid buildup. When cancer spreads to the liver, this might also happen. If an individual has one of these malignancies, they are more prone to develop ascites:
· Breast cancer
· Colon cancer
· Gastrointestinal tract cancers, such as stomach and intestinal cancers
· Ovarian cancer or fallopian tube cancer
· Pancreatic cancer
· Uterine cancer
Abdominal Paracentesis Procedure
A paracentesis needle, also known as an “abdominal tap” or “ascites tap,” is a minor surgical operation in which a doctor can drain extra ascetic fluid from the patient’s belly through a hollow or slender needle, as previously mentioned. The fluid is then submitted to a laboratory for additional testing depending on how much fluid needs to be extracted owing to accumulation and pressure.
Depending on how much fluid needs to be removed, the process might take anywhere from one minute to 30-45 minutes.
Complications of Paracentesis
The procedure can relieve any discomfort produced by ascites while also being a low-risk operation. It is, nevertheless, typical for the fluid to reappear. As a result, a patient may need to have the surgery repeated in a few weeks or have a catheter inserted to allow fluid to drain continually.
Risks of paracentesis:
· Fever of 100.4°F or higher after the procedure
· Redness at the puncture site
· Abdominal pain that increases
· Low blood pressure
· Kidney Failure
· Puncturing of the bladder, blood vessels, or bowel during the procedure
The Stanford Medicine Faculty has prepared an animation video explaining what to expect during a paracentesis surgery and the various reasons why individuals seek it out as a viable treatment option.