What is paracentesis treatment for?
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What is paracentesis treatment for?

Abdominal distention is the objective manifestation of an increase in abdominal girth by measuring the area between the hips and chest by using tools such as measuring tape. We may think that abdominal distention is caused by bloating or after having a lot of food of the day. However, it can be caused by conditions such as ascites. Ascites is a condition where there is fluid collected within the abdomen. In conditions such as ascites, health services such as paracentesis treatment are given to help patients feel relieved.

What is Paracentesis?

Paracentesis is the removal of peritoneal fluid such as ascites from the abdomen. The fluid is removed using a needle or a tube known as a catheter. Paracentesis may be done to remove only small samples of fluid for testing purposes or to remove whole fluid in cases of causing discomfort or pain. What is paracentesis treatment for? It is usually used in treating ascites or those with peritoneal fluid with uncertain causes. Treatment aims to alleviate symptoms such as breathing difficulty or pain that is caused by the large volume of the peritoneal fluid.

You may wonder how ascites occur and why paracentesis can help to treat the condition. Many organs in the abdomen are covered by a sheath known as peritoneum. Peritoneum helps to protect, cushion and hold organs in place. It also produces a small amount of lubricant that helps with friction as the organs brush against each other. Ascites occur when the organ such as the liver stops functioning and this leads to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen. paracentesis treatment works to lower the pressure caused by the excess fluid through draining of the fluid within the abdomen.

The Procedure of Paracentesis

The procedure of paracentesis involves inserting a needle into the peritoneal cavity. Sedative or painkillers may be given before insertion to the abdomen is done. Patients may be asked to empty their bladder or to urinate just before the procedure. In case of paracentesis done to know the causes behind the ascites, only a small sample of fluid will be obtained. Needle will be removed and the cut will be covered with plaster. In cases of ascites causing symptoms, a small incision or cut on the skin is done to allow insertion of a catheter that drains the fluid.

The catheter is then fixated with stitches and connected to the drainage bag. Patients should notify their health professional if they feel unwell or dizzy after the paracentesis procedure. Do mind that minimal leakage after the procedure is considered normal and the patient can ask a health professional to change the soaked dressings. It is important for patients to ensure dressing or plaster is dry and intact. Removal of the dressings should only be done with advice or instructions from doctors or nurses. It is best to avoid strenuous activity within the next few days to ensure the wound heals properly.

Other Medical Procedure

Similar to any other medical procedure, risk and complications can occur with paracentesis treatment. This includes leaking fluid from the insertion site, infection to the wound, bleeding to the abdominal wall and low blood pressure (hypotension). There is also a small risk of perforating organs within the abdominal cavity. If patients have symptoms or conditions such as repeating abdominal fluids with symptoms, excessive leakage from the puncture site, fever, severe abdominal pain and pain or tenderness at the puncture site, patients need to get themselves to the emergency care as this may signify danger or life-threatening conditions.

You may think that paracentesis may be done without any additional equipment. However, it is common that paracentesis be done under ultrasound guidance. This helps health professionals to get a better view of the ascites and which site on the abdomen for paracentesis to be performed. This is especially true in cases where the fluid can be difficult to determine. Some patients may require repeated paracentesis treatment. This is true in most cases of ascites and ascites can happen repeatedly throughout the patient’s life.

Paracentesis can be considered as a safe and effective way of identifying the cause of the excess fluid in the abdomen and in treating symptoms caused by the buildup fluid. It is relatively a simple procedure performed at the bedside with or without ultrasound guidance. The procedure is often performed in the emergency department but can be done in any health department by an internist, radiologist, physician and general surgeon.

There are no specific preparations needed for patients before the paracentesis treatment procedure but it is common for patients to empty the bladder first. Patients may need to undergo a few tests before the procedure to check for medical conditions and the kidney function. There is no need to fast before the procedure as in many other medical procedures.

Although it is said as a safe procedure, bleeding is the common complication following the paracentesis procedure. Patients need to follow all advice or instructions to ensure the procedure runs smoothly and fasten the healing process.

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