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Treatment / Paracentesis (PleurX/Aspira)

Lawrence, patient (and physician)


Paracentesis is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose ascites (excessive fluid in the abdomen) as well as treat it. This procedure involves the use of a thin needle to remove serous fluid from the abdomen, relieving pressure and discomfort, and allowing for the fluid to be analyzed.

What is Ascites?

Ascites is a condition that is marked by a buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Ascites can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Injury to the abdomen
  • Cirrhosis or cancer of the liver

Any of these issues can cause fluid to seep out of your organs and accumulate in your abdominal cavity. The excess fluid may cause pain or discomfort, breathing difficulty, and can affect the function of your kidneys and bowel. Paracentesis is used to determine the cause of ascites, alleviate your symptoms and diagnose possible cancer or infection.

The Paracentesis Procedure

Paracentesis is an outpatient procedure that takes about 30 minutes, depending on the amount of fluid that needs to be removed. Before your treatment begins you will empty your bladder, and may be weighed and the circumference of your abdomen measured for comparison after the fluid removal. Paracentesis is minimally invasive, and uses a local anesthetic, so the process is virtually painless. Once the site has been numbed, your vascular and interventional radiologist will use ultrasound guidance to slowly direct the needle to where the extra fluid has built up. Once the fluid has been drained or enough has been taken for testing, the needle is removed and the injection site is bandaged.

If you are undergoing paracentesis to drain a large amount of fluid, the needle may be hooked up to a small vacuum bottle that will help the process. Most patients get about a gallon of fluid extracted from their abdomen, but if there is more than that, you will be given IV fluids to help prevent low blood pressure or shock. If you begin feeling lightheaded or dizzy during the procedure, tell your vascular and interventional radiologist immediately.

After the procedure, your vital signs are monitored for about an hour, and then you may return home and get back to your regular activities. After paracentesis, clear fluid may continue to drain from the injection site, but this is normal, and will lessen within a couple of days.


As with any medical procedure, paracentesis does have some risks, including:

  • The needle puncturing the bowel, bladder, or blood vessels in the abdomen. There is a very small chance of this, which is reduced further by the use of ultrasound guidance.
  • If cancer cells are found in the fluid, they may be spread in the abdomen
  • A drop in blood pressure during the procedure, leading to shock. This could happen if a significant amount of fluid is removed, but can be mitigated with IV fluids or medication.
  • Removal of the fluid may affect kidney function. This can also be avoided by using IV fluids during the procedure.

After the procedure, if you experience redness or tenderness in your abdomen, severe abdominal pain, or a fever of more than 100 degrees, contact your doctor immediately.

If you are experiencing discomfort from fluid buildup associated with ascites, it may be time to undergo paracentesis. Call IVC today at 503-612-0498 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.

* This information about Paracentesis 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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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

We would like to thank you for the trust you have given us over the years, participating in your healthcare needs has been a privilege.

To assist in a smooth transition to a new provider, you may access your records from your MyHealth account or request a copy of medical records by clicking the link below and completing the Release of Information form.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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