Preparation & Procedure For Abdominal Tap

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What Is Abdominal Tap?

This is a medical procedure to drain out the build up of peritoneal fluid in the stomach. Ascites is the term used for the fluid build up. Ascites can generally happen because of cancer, cirrhosis, an injury, inflammation or infection.In this process, this fluid is drained out with a long and thin needle that is inserted through the abdomen. This fluid is then analyzed in the laboratory. The abdominal tap procedure can also be carried out to decrease the pain or pressure that the fluid might be causing.


Before the procedure is carried out, you need to tell your physician if you are allergic to any medicines; are on some medicines; have taken blood-thinning medicines; or, are pregnant. Blood tests will be done to check if you have any clotting or bleeding problems.

You will need to have an empty bladder before the procedure is carried out and will be asked to sign a consent form. At this point, you can discuss any issues or concerns with your physician.

How Is it Done?

The abdominal tap procedure can be carried out either in the X-ray department, in an emergency room, in the doctor's clinic, or at your bedside at the hospital. If the quantity of fluid that has to be drained out is large, then you will be asked to lie down with your head propped up. For smaller quantities of fluids, you can sit up.

The area where the needle will be inserted into the stomach as well as the needles to be used will be cleaned thoroughly. Once this is done, a numbing cream will be applied to the area and then the area is swathed in sterile towels. In most cases, four liters of fluid is extracted. But if there is more fluid to be drained out, then you will be given fluids through an IV. You will be asked to be still while the procedure is being carried out.

After the needle is taken out, the area is bandaged, and your temperature, blood pressure and pulse are monitored. Your belly and weight might be checked before and after the procedure.

The abdominal tap procedure takes between 20 to 30 minutes. It could take longer depending upon the amount of fluid that has to be drained out.

How Does It Feel After The Procedure

The numbing creams used may cause a stinging sensation, and when the needle is inserted into your belly, you might feel certain pressure or a temporary sharp pain.