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Peritoneal fluid analysis

Paracentesis; Abdominal tap

Peritoneal fluid analysis is a lab test. It is done to look at fluid that has built up in the space in the abdomen around the internal organs. This area is called the peritoneal space. The condition is called ascites.

The test is also known as paracentesis or abdominal tap.

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Peritoneal culture

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Indication

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How the Test is Performed

The sample of fluid is removed from the peritoneal space using a needle and syringe. Ultrasound is often used to direct the needle to the fluid.

Your health care provider will clean and numb a small area of your belly area (abdomen). A needle is inserted through the skin of your abdomen and a fluid sample is pulled out. The fluid is collected into a tube (syringe) attached to the end of the needle.

The fluid is sent to a lab where it is examined. Tests will be done on the fluid to measure:

Tests will also check for bacteria and other types of infection.

The following tests may also be done:

How to Prepare for the Test

Let your provider know if you:

How the Test will Feel

You may feel a stinging sensation from the numbing medicine, or pressure as the needle is placed.

If a large amount of fluid is taken out, you may feel dizzy or lightheaded. Tell the provider if you feel dizzy.

Why the Test is Performed

The test is done to:

What Abnormal Results Mean

Abnormal results may mean:

Other abnormal test results may be due to a problem in the intestines or organs of the abdomen. Large differences between the amount of albumin in the peritoneal fluid and in your blood may point to heart, liver, or kidney failure. Small differences may be a sign of cancer or infection.

Risks

Risks may include:

Related Information

Abdominal tap
Peritonitis
Cancer
Hodgkin lymphoma
Pulmonary tuberculosis
Tumor
Cirrhosis

References

Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Paracentesis (peritoneal fluid analysis) - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:849-851.

Garcia-Tsao G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 153.

Miller JH, Moake M. Procedures. In: The Johns Hopkins Hospital; Hughes HK, Kahl LK, eds. The Harriet Lane Handbook. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 3.

Runyon BA. Ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 93.

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Review Date: 1/1/2019  

Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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