top of page


A paracentesis is a medical procedure in which a needle or catheter is inserted into the abdominal cavity to remove excess fluid (ascites).  The fluid removed can be used for diagnosis or, if the diagnosis is known such as decompensated cirrhosis, as a therapy just to remove the fluid as it it very uncomfortable.

In my experience, this is one of the best procedures to preform as the pressure relief is immediate, and patients love you for it. 😁

The length of time a paracentesis takes depends on the amount of fluid that needs to be removed but generally takes 30 minutes to an hour.

Most people experience some discomfort during a paracentesis, but the procedure is typically well-tolerated. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area where the needle or catheter is inserted, so there may be a small amount of discomfort from the needle used to inject the anesthetic.

Common diagnoses made by a paracentesis include:

  • Cirrhosis of the liver, which can cause a buildup of fluid in the abdomen due to changes in blood flow through the liver.

  • Cancer, which can cause ascites as a result of the tumor or treatment.

  • Heart failure, which can lead to the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen as well as other parts of the body.

  • Kidney failure, which can cause fluid buildup in the abdomen and other parts of the body.

Possible Complications:

  • discomfort or pain where the needle or catheter is inserted

  • dizziness or light-headedness, especially if a lot of fluid is removed

  • infection

  • puncture of the bowel, bladder or blood vessels when the needle is put into the cavity

  • low blood pressure 

  • kidney failure

Paracentesis Procedure – What to Expect Stanford EdTech


See example Discharge Instructions after Paracentesis

bottom of page