Paracentesis is a medical procedure that removes the excess peritoneal fluid from the abdomen to find the cause of the fluid buildup, make a diagnosis, improve the quality of life and ease symptoms. It can reveal certain types of cancer, check for damage after an injury and remove a large amount of fluid that is causing pain, difficulty breathing, or affecting how the kidneys or intestines are functioning. Paracentesis is often used as a palliative surgery to relieve a patient suffering from mesothelioma symptoms.

Peritoneal Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer often associated with exposure to asbestos, a fibrous mineral once used in the manufacture of fireproof structural material. It commonly develops in the lungs and can affect the peritoneum which is the mesothelial lining of the abdomen. This happens in about 10 to 20 percent of all cases.

Peritoneal fluid is naturally produced in the abdomen. It lubricates the lining of the peritoneum, or abdominal wall, preventing friction between organs. An infection, inflammation, injury or condition such as cancer or cirrhosis can cause a buildup of this fluid called ascites. This buildup can cause pain and complications in the bowels, kidneys and digestive system.


Paracentesis can be done in the doctor’s office, a hospital bedside or the X-ray department. The procedure takes about 20 to 30 minutes for a small amount of fluid and longer for a larger amount. If a large amount of fluid is needed, the patient may lie on his or her back. For smaller amounts, the patient can sit up. The patient is given a numbing medication and the site of injection is cleaned and sterilized. The doctor will slowly insert a needle to extract the fluid.

Patients may feel slight pain or pressure when the needle is inserted. The procedure may be a bit uncomfortable but poses few risks. If a large amount of fluid is removed the patient may feel slight dizziness. An IV may be inserted to help replace fluids to prevent blood pressure problems and shock.