Patients with a variety of illnesses may develop an area of excessive fluid in a body cavity, such as the abdomen or chest. The fluid can be drained by inserting a thin tube (catheter) through a small nick in the skin. In an effort to determine the cause of the fluid build-up or to relieve the symptoms of the excess fluid, Interventional Radiologists insert a small tube (less than 1/12 of an inch in diameter) through the skin after numbing the skin with a local anesthetic. The fluid may be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
The patient experiences immediate relief of most of the symptoms and is released home after a short (one hour or less) observation period.