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Diagnosis / Excess Fluid

An abnormal amount of fluid buildup in the abdomen is called ascites. Most common causes are cirrhosis of the liver and malignant fluid from cancer of organs in the abdomen.

An abnormal amount of fluid buildup between the tissues surrounding the lungs and the chest wall is called a pleural effusion. Fluid can accumulate and surround the lungs due to poor pumping of the heart (heart failure) and inflammation (infection).


  • Shortness of breath
  • Cough
  • Sharp chest pain
  • Swelling of the abdomen, legs, ankles and feet


  • Alcoholism
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Chronic viral hepatitis (usually hepatitis B and C)
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Kidney failure
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Cancer

Diagnosis and Treatment

There are several methods used to diagnose excess fluid in either abdomen or chest. First, your doctor will perform a physical exam and review your medical history. The next step will be for you to undergo blood tests and an ultrasound or CT scan and removing a sample of the excess fluid for testing. All tests are examined to determine if there are any signs of infection, cancer, or other medical issues.

Treatment may involve use of medications such as a diuretic (water pill), antibiotics and/or a reduction of sodium intake in your diet. A procedure to remove the excess fluid may be needed. This is called a paracentesis (abdomen) or thoracentesis (chest).

Excess fluid buildup and the side effects can be debilitating and even dangerous. If you suspect that you may have ascites or a pleural effusion, call IVC today at 503-612-0498.

* This information about Excess Fluid was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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