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What are Abdominocentesis?

Abdominocentesis is a procedure used to remove fluid that is present in the abdominal cavity. The buildup of abdominal fluid is also known as abdominal effusion. Abdominal effusion is a symptom of several conditions, and is typically considered serious. In some cases, abdominal effusion can be life-threatening, particularly if it is symptomatic of heart, kidney, or liver disease. Abdominocentesis is a simple procedure that presents few complications. However, additional treatments are usually required to treat the condition and prevent recurrence.

Abdominocentesis Procedure in Cats

Abdominocentesis is simple and noninvasive. If cats are only receiving abdominocentesis and do not require additional treatment, they may be able to go home the same day.

  1. The cat may or may not need to be anesthetized for this procedure, although part of the abdomen will need to be shaved and cleaned.
  2. The vet will use a needle and syringe to remove the abdominal fluid. 
  3. The size of the syringe may vary based on the amount of fluid present or suspected.
  4. The procedure will be repeated as many times as necessary until most or all of the fluid has been removed.
  5. The fluid will then be sent off to be examined.
  6. Cats may be sent home the same day if their condition is stable and there are no serious underlying conditions.
  7. Some cats, particularly those with organ failure, may be hospitalized or sent into surgery so that the underlying condition can be treated. These cats may require supportive care or additional treatments.

Efficacy of Abdominocentesis in Cats

Abdominocentesis is considered effective in that it removes the accumulation of abdominal fluid. However, the underlying cause of abdominal effusion will need to be addressed in order to fully treat the condition. This can require more complex and invasive procedures, particularly surgery. The efficacy of these additional treatment methods may vary based on the cat’s health and the severity of the underlying condition.

Abdominocentesis Recovery in Cats

Prognosis and recovery will vary based on the severity of the underlying condition. Some cats are able to return to normal almost immediately following abdominocentesis. Since abdominal effusion is most often present in serious conditions such as organ disease and cancer, cats that have undergone abdominocentesis should rest and not engage in outdoor activity. Pain medications, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids or other medications may be administered depending on the underlying condition. Vets may schedule follow-up appointments as needed following abdominocentesis to monitor healing of the underlying condition. Owners should follow their veterinarian’s instructions with regard to recovery.

Cost of Abdominocentesis in Cats

The cost of abdominocentesis will vary based on standards of living and additional costs incurred, including medications, hospitalization, and supportive care. The cost of abdominocentesis ranges from $75 to $200.

Cat Abdominocentesis Considerations

It should be noted that abdominocentesis is only a temporary resolution for abdominal effusion. If only small amounts of abdominal effusion are present, conservative treatment methods, particularly the administration of diuretics, may be recommended first. Abdominocentesis is not recommended for cats that have or are suspected to have pyometra – infection of the uterus – because this can result in rupture of the uterus and  peritonitis.

Because this procedure is simple and does not require animals to undergo anesthetization, complications are considered very rare. However, complications associated with abdominocentesis include:

  • Spread of infection
  • Hemoperitoneum: Abdominal bleeding
  • Pneumoperitoneum: Accumulation of air in the abdominal cavity

If these complications arise, additional treatment will be required to correct them. Surgery is indicated for both hemoperitoneum and pneumoperitoneum.

Abdominocentesis Prevention in Cats

It is often difficult to prevent abdominal effusion because it is typically associated with serious conditions such as organ failure. Owners should ensure their cats are fed a complete diet which is high in protein and fiber.

Abdominocentesis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

domestic short hair
15 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen

My cat has lung cancer and it is seemingly slow growing. However, she has fluid in her abdomen and her middle is swollen. Her vet tells me to just let her alone. I feel she would be more comfortable if the fluid was drained. I know it will most likely come back but in the meantime she would be more comfortable. I just wonder how painful the procedure will be for her. She is 15.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
The procedure is uncomfortable which is not the problem here, the problem is that the fluid would most likely return quite quickly making the procedure fruitless; it would be better to have Honey on diuretics to help with fluid excretion and management of the underlying condition. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Domestic shorthair
2 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Large abdominal (hematoma?)

Our cat has a golfball to baseball size pouch of (possibly) fluid in her distal abdomen hanging down that is likely due to a dog bite. We did not see it happen or hear a commotion, but that is out best guess. Right after it happened she was very defensive and growling. The small exterior wound only bled a couple of drops and oozed for a day. The next day she was active again. She does not seem to be in pain; she does not care if we touch it. It has been 5 days and she is eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating as normal. She does not feel warm and she is breathing normal. Her gums and tongue are a normal color. She is active and appears to be her normal self, except for the pouch hanging down. Will her body take care of the pouch on its own or does the fluid (possibly blood) need to be removed?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3320 Recommendations
Without examining Cinder I cannot say what the cause of the pouch is; haematoma, abscess, other fluid, a hernia among other causes may be present. If the pouch is due to blood or fluid, the body may reabsorb it without intervention but if there is another cause it may require draining or surgery. You should visit your Veterinarian to determine the cause and to receive treatment as required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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