Peritoneal fluid analysis


Peritoneal fluid analysis is a laboratory test to examine fluid that has collected in the area of the abdomen that contains the gastrointestinal organs. This area is called the peritoneal space.

How the Test is Performed

The sample of fluid is removed from the peritoneal space using a needle and syringe.

Your health care provider will clean and numb a small area of your belly area (abdomen). Next, your health care provider will insert a needle through the skin of your abdomen into the peritoneal space, and pull out a sample of fluid. The fluid collects into a tube (syringe) attached to the end of the needle.

See: Abdominal tap

The fluid is sent to a laboratory where it is examined. Tests will be done on the fluid to measure:

Tests will also check for bacteria and other types of infection.

Sometimes, the following tests are also done:

How to Prepare for the Test

Let your health care provider know if you:

How the Test Will Feel

You may feel a stinging sensation from the numbing medicine, or pressure as the needle is inserted.

If a large amount of fluid is taken out, you may feel dizzy or light-headed. Tell the health care provider if you feel dizzy.

Why the Test is Performed

The test is done to:

What Abnormal Results Mean

Other abnormal test results may be due to a problem in the intestines or organs of the abdomen. Large differences between the amount of albumin in the peritoneal fluid and in your blood may point to heart, liver, or kidney failure. Small differences may be a sign of cancer or infection.



Garcia-Tsao G. Cirrhosis and its sequelae. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 157.

Runyon BA. Ascites and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 91.

Review Date: 2/4/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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