Centesis is a word used to describe a minor procedure used to remove fluid from the body. This procedure can be done by our skilled Boulder and Denver veterinary cardiologists with little risk to the patient.

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What is a centesis?

Our cardiologists will use a centesis to help manage discomfort and stress in patients with congestive heart failure who develop large quantities of fluid in body cavities. Additionally, certain types of tumors which may grow on the heart may result in fluid accumulation around the heart. This fluid must be drained to maintain normal cardiac function in most individuals.

Generally, a centesis is performed on your pet while they are awake to avoid any of the detrimental effects of sedatives or anesthetic on an already potentially compromised heart.

Fortunately, the vast majority of centeses represent relatively little pain to your pet. A local analgesic is often used to reduce discomfort associated with fluid drainage. Depending on the location of fluid to be removed and size of your pet, fluid may be removed via a small needle introduced into the chest or abdominal cavities or a longer catheter.

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What can I expect after a centesis?

Following centesis, animals generally return to normal activity within hours following the event. For animals where sedation is required to perform the procedure, they may appear disoriented or lethargic for up to a full 24 hours following the centesis.

As we are creating a hole for fluid to drain out of a body cavity, there may be swelling and fluid tracking around the site of fluid removal for 24-48 hours following fluid removal. This may be helped with either cold compresses or placement of a mild compression wrap to help reduce fluid accumulation or bruising, however, this does not represent a significant source of discomfort or concern for your pet.

Repeat procedures may be recommended in the future depending on the case and cause of fluid accumulation.

What are the potential complications associated with centesis?

In the vast majority of cases, a centesis can be performed with minimal anxiety and pain to your pet and without any significant complications.

Swelling of the site of fluid withdrawal and minor bruising are the most common minor complications associated with fluid removal. If the fluid is being removed from the sac around the heart (pericardiocentesis) there is a unique but rare risk of malignant arrhythmias which may require medication to control.

All patients undergoing pericardiocentesis are placed on continuous electrocardiographic monitoring and special precautions are taken to not irritate the heart (i.e. catheter introduced with ultrasound guidance, removal of catheter if there is a significant risk to the patient). 

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