Reasons, Preparation, Procedure and Risks Involved In Stomach Tap

By Ashley | January 15, 2010

A stomach tap or abdominal tap refers to a procedure involving the removal of fluid from the abdomen.

Under normal circumstances there is a small quantity of fluid present in the abdomen. However, certain conditions may arise wherein greater amounts of fluid may accumulate in the abdomen. An abdominal tap may be conducted to determine the cause of the excess fluid. It also serves to examine infected fluid in the abdomen or for the removal of excess fluid so that abdominal pain is reduced.

Preparation for Stomach Tap

The health care professional must be informed in case the individual is on any type of medication. This also includes herbal medicines. Bleeding problems and pregnancy must also be reported to the doctor. Some individuals may have allergies to the numbing medicine, and hence must inform the doctor about this beforehand.


An abdominal tap may be conducted either in a hospital, treatment room or in the doctor’s office. The site where the puncture needs to be made is first cleaned and if necessary, shaved. The individual is then administered a numbing medicine to anesthetize the area. A tap needle is then inserted 1 to 2 inches in the abdomen. In some cases, a tiny cut needs to be made so that the needle can be inserted easily. The abdominal fluid is then drawn out using the syringe. The needle is then removed from the site and a dressing is done on the site of the puncture. A couple of stitches may be required to close the cut.

Abdominal taps can be of two types; diagnostic tap and large volume tap. In a diagnostic tap a smaller amount of fluid is removed and sent for laboratory testing. In a large volume tap, many liters may be drawn out to reduce the fluid buildup and alleviate pain in the abdomen.

When the needle is inserted there may be a slight stinging sensation. There may also be some dizziness if a large quantity of fluid is removed. Such dizziness must be reported to the doctor.

Normal results would indicate a slight amount or no fluid at all in the abdomen. Abnormal results may be indicative of damage to the bowel, infection, disease of the pancreas, tumors, kidney disease, appendicitis, liver cirrhosis and heart disease.

Risks Involved

In rare cases, there may be risk of a bowel, blood vessel or bladder puncture when the needle is inserted. Decrease in blood pressure and kidney failure may sometimes occur when a large amount of fluid is drawn out. There are slight possibilities of infection as well.