A paracentesis is a minimally-invasive procedure used to remove fluid that has collected in the belly, a condition known as ascites.

During the procedure you will be asked to lie down and expose your abdomen. After cleaning the abdomen with an antiseptic solution, the radiologist will numb a small area of skin with a local anesthetic, similar to Novocain, and insert a long, thin needle along with a plastic sheath three to five inches into your abdomen to reach the peritoneal (ascitic) fluid. Ultrasound is used to guide the insertion of the needle during this process. The needle is then removed, leaving the plastic sheath behind to allow drainage of the fluid.

The fluid is then sent to a lab and studied to determine the cause of the fluid buildup. A paracentesis may be performed to check for damage after a stomach injury, diagnose an infection, or remove fluid to relieve belly pressure or pain in people with cancer or cirrhosis. The procedure itself is safe. However, there is a very small risk of infection, excessive bleeding or perforating a loop of bowel.

If you have concerns regarding the amount of radiation involved in any of the tests we offer, please contact us at (360) 425-5131.