Author(s): Josh Ennis, Geoffrey Schultz, Phillips Perera, Sarah Williams, Laleh Gharahbaghian, Diku Mandavia
Objective: To review the use of ultrasound (US) for the detection of free intraperitoneal fluid (ascites) and for the procedural guidance of the paracentesis procedure. Methods: Two clinical vignettes are presented to review the pertinent diagnostic, management and safety considerations associated with paracentesis. First, US techniques used for the identification of ascites and in the quantification of fluid pockets amenable to aspiration will be discussed. Next, the actual steps required for the performance of US-guided paracentesis will be covered. A review and analysis of the most current literature regarding US and paracentesis then follows. Conclusion: Current literature favors US-guided paracentesis over the traditional blind technique with a significant reduction in both the rate of unsuccessful aspiration of fluid and in the bleeding complications related to this procedure. Use of US for both the diagnostic and therapeutic management of ascites should be advocated as an essential skill for physicians and other health care providers caring for these patients.
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