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Removing abdominal fluid

You might have a build up of fluid in your tummy (abdomen). Your doctor will take a sample of the fluid to check for cancer cells. You usually have this test as a day case in the outpatient department.

A swollen abdomen

Ovarian cancer can cause a build up of fluid in your tummy (abdomen). This is called ascites. It can be a sign that your ovarian cancer has spread. It can also be caused by other conditions that are not cancer.

Your specialist will want to take a sample of fluid to check for cancer cells.

What happens

You usually have this test as a day case in the outpatients department. 

First, you have a local anaesthetic injection into the skin of your abdomen. Once the skin is numb, your doctor puts in a needle to draw out some of the fluid. They send this sample to the laboratory to be checked for cancer cells.

If you have a lot of fluid, your doctor may want to drain it to relieve pressure in your abdomen and make you more comfortable. This is called an abdominal tap or abdominal paracentesis (para-sent-ee-sis).

Diagram showing fluid (ascites) being drained from the abdomen
Last reviewed: 
30 Jan 2019
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