Paracentesis is a procedure designed to remove fluid that has accumulated in the abdominal area. When peritoneal fluid has collected in the abdominal cavity, it is called ascites. This toxic accumulation of fluid can cause numerous problems. It is extremely painful for a patient with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma to experience ascites. The paracentesis procedure can help ease abdominal pain and pressure associated with ascites, which also can cause problems with other parts of the digestive system.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is a rare disease and not the most common form of the cancer. That means fewer studies have been conducted to test the overall effectiveness of paracentesis in treating this disease. There is no doubt in the mesothelioma medical community that a paracentesis helps control the painful effects of ascites, but it does not completely eliminate ascites or cure the condition.
A paracentesis procedure usually is performed on an outpatient basis in a clinic or hospital setting, commonly taking 20 to 30 minutes to complete. An ultrasound typically will be performed first in order to provide a better picture of the amount and size of the ascetic buildup. Some routine blood tests also may be required to determine the platelet count and to verify that there will be no unnecessary bleeding as a result of the procedure.
The Paracentesis Surgical Procedure
A mesothelioma patient typically will undergo this procedure while lying on a bed after their bladder is emptied. It is imperative for patients to elevate their heads during this the procedure in order to permit fluid to collect in the lower abdomen. Once the fluid has accumulated, the test area is then shaved and cleaned with antiseptic solution. A local anesthetic is then administered. The doctor will insert a thin needle into the abdominal area and drain the fluid using a syringe. If a very sizable amount of fluid is present, then a catheter may be attached to the syringe to disperse the fluid in a vacuum bottle. When enough fluid is collected, the needle will be removed and the insertion site will be covered with a sterile bandage, or a small suture may be needed.
If the procedure results in five or more liters of collect fluid, then a mesothelioma patient may receive serum albumin to restore lost fluids, prevent a drop in blood pressure, or reduce the risk of shock. Patients usually are released to go home within a few hours so long as their blood pressure is normal and there is no feeling of dizziness.
The Risks Associated with Paracentesis Surgery
The medical community has determined that paracentesis is a safe procedure. However, there are some risks. There is a slight possibility that the needle could puncture a nearby organ, such as the bladder or bowel. If a very great amount of fluid is removed, then it may result in a drop in blood pressure or put unnecessary strain on the kidneys. The most dangerous risk is if mesothelioma cancer cells spread throughout the abdomen.
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