Cyst and Fluid Drainage

Fluid Drainage Procedures

Illness, infection and injury can all cause the abnormal buildup of fluid in the body, creating lumps and bumps that need to be evaluated and treated. At University Radiology, our interventional radiologists provide several minimally invasive procedures to drain cysts, abscesses and other fluid-filled lumps to:

  • Drain infected fluid or test for infection or other disease processes.
  • Relieve pain, pressure or other symptoms caused by fluid buildup.
  • Improve appearance in cases such as benign cysts near the surface of the skin.

Our drainage procedures take advantage of advanced imaging technologies to treat fluid buildup without surgery. Most procedures can be done on an outpatient basis, allowing you to return to normal activities within a day. Our procedures include:

Abscess and cyst drainage

A cyst is a fluid-filled sac inside the body that can cause pain, but is usually benign. An abscess is a collection of pus caused by an infection. Both can occur under the skin or inside of the body. Our interventional radiologists treat both conditions using a small needle to drain fluid — a procedure known as aspiration.

What are the benefits?
  • Decreases the amount of swelling and pain caused by the extra fluid.
  • If there is concern for infection, the fluid can be removed and sent for culture and additional analyses.
  • For more serious abscesses, the catheter can be left in place to allow for continued drainage.
How does the procedure work?

After cleaning off the skin, your interventional radiologist will use CT scan or ultrasound imaging to locate the fluid. The skin overlying the bump will be numbed with a local anesthetic. A needle with a small tube (catheter) will be placed into the fluid. The needle is removed and a small tube remains inserted while the fluid is drained. When the fluid has drained, the catheter is removed and a bandage is placed over the site. Fluid from the cyst or abscess may be sent to a laboratory for testing.
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Paracentesis

Paracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid that has collected in the abdomen and pelvis. This fluid buildup is called ascites. Ascites may be caused by infection, inflammation, injury, or other conditions, such as cirrhosis or cancer. The fluid is taken out using a thin catheter inserted in the belly.

What are the benefits?
  • Removes fluid that may be causing pain, pressure, difficulty breathing or is affecting the way the kidneys or intestines are working.
  • After removal of the fluid from the belly, the fluid may be sent for analysis to determine the cause, and assist in the course of treatment.
How does the procedure work?

The interventional radiologist will use ultrasound to locate the largest pocket of fluid in the belly. The site where your interventional radiologist will drain the ascites is cleaned, and then the skin is numbed with local anesthetic. Once the area is numb, your radiologist will insert the paracentesis needle. A needle with a small tube (catheter) will be placed into the fluid. When the fluid has been drained, the catheter is removed and a bandage is placed over the site.
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Thoracentesis

Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the pleural space (effusion) — the space between the lining of the lungs and the chest wall. Pleural fluid may accumulate for many reasons, including infection, heart failure or cancer.

What are the benefits?
  • Removing the fluid will help you breath better.
  • Testing the fluid will help your health care provider determine the cause of pleural fluid buildup.
  • If your health care provider suspects that you have an infection, a culture of the fluid may be done to test for bacteria.
How does the procedure work?

A small area of skin on your back is washed with a sterilizing liquid. Numbing medicine (local anesthetic) is injected into this area. Using CT scan or ultrasound image guidance, your interventional radiologist will insert a small needle and catheter into the fluid. The needle is removed from the chest leaving behind a small tube (catheter), which will remain inserted while the fluid is drained. Fluid may be collected and sent to a laboratory for testing. A chest X-ray is always done after the procedure to detect possible complications. The procedure takes about 30 minutes.

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PleurX® and Aspira® drainage systems

PleurX and Aspira drainage systems are alternatives to repeat paracentesis and thoracentesis for patients with recurrent fluid buildup in the chest or belly. After the device is inserted during an outpatient procedure, you will be able to drain your own fluid at home rather than returning to the hospital or doctor’s office.

What are the benefits?
  • Helps patients manage uncomfortable and painful symptoms from frequently recurring pleural effusions or malignant ascites.
  • Fluid drainage can be easily repeated in the comfort of your own home.
How does the procedure work?

Using image guidance, your interventional radiologist will insert a small tube (catheter) into your chest cavity or abdomen. The end of the catheter remains outside of your body. To drain the fluid, you will connect the catheter to a drainage bottle or bag to draw out fluid. When the catheter is not in use, you simply cover it with a protective dressing. The procedure to implant the catheter is done on an outpatient basis — you will return home the same day.
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Sclerosis of lymphoceles

A lymphocele is a mass that contains lymphatic fluid, which carries white blood cells that fight infection throughout the body. A lymphocele sometimes occurs after surgery, especially surgery in the pelvis. After a lymphocele has been drained, sclerosis is a procedure to treat lymphocele and decrease the chance of recurrence.

What are the benefits?
  • Helps resolve symptoms of a lymphocele, including pain and swelling.
  • Prevents return of a lymphocele, which can develop a dangerous infection without treatment.
How does the procedure work?

Using either ultrasound or CT scan imaging guidance, your interventional radiologist, will guide a needle into the suspected lymphocele. Fluid will be removed and sent to a laboratory for testing. To drain the remaining fluid, a small tube (catheter) is then inserted into the lymphocele. A sclerosing agent is injected through the catheter and into the lymphocele. The sclerosant destroys the lining of the lymphocele, causing it to scar down (or collapse and adhere to itself), preventing fluid from re-accumulating. The lymphocele often has to be drained and treated with the sclerosing agent for several days until it goes away. Some of these follow-up treatments may be performed in your doctor’s office or at home.
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Seroma Drainage

A seroma is a pocket of clear fluid that sometimes develops in the body after surgery. When small blood vessels are broken, blood plasma can seep out, causing a collection of fluid to form. Seromas can also sometimes be caused by injury, such as when the initial swelling from a blow or fall does not fully subside. Seromas are particularly common after breast surgeries, abdominal surgeries, and plastic surgery. The affected area usually swells.

What are the benefits?
  • Decrease the amount of swelling and pain caused by the extra fluid.
  • If there is concern for infection, the fluid can be removed and sent for culture and additional analyses.
How does the procedure work?

After cleaning off the skin, your radiologist will use ultrasound to localize the pocket of fluid. The skin overlying the pocket of fluid will be numbed with a local anesthetic. A needle with a small tube (catheter) will gently and slowly be placed into the area where the extra fluid is. The needle is removed and a small tube remains inserted while the fluid is drained. When the fluid has drained, the catheter is removed and a bandage is placed over the site. Seroma drainage takes about 30 minutes.
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For an appointment: Call 800-758-5545 Mon – Fri: 8 am – 8 pm, Sat: 8 am – 12 pm