Definition & Overview

Puncture aspiration is the procedure of draining fluid buildup with the use of needle or catheter. It is performed to treat various skin conditions such as abscess, hematoma, bulla, or cysts.

Unlike drainage, puncture aspiration involves the removal of needle or catheter at the end of each procedure, which means that no needle or catheter is left inside the body. Aside from draining excess fluid, the procedure can also be performed to collect fluid specimen for further evaluation in a pathology laboratory.

Who Should Undergo and Expected Results

Puncture aspiration can benefit patients with:

  • Abscess – This is a fairly common condition afflicting people of all ages. It is primarily caused by bacterial infection that has led to inflammation, pain, redness, and swelling. It can also be a complication following surgery. Pus accumulates inside the abscess that needs to be drained completely to avoid further complications. Patients with purulent foci or abscess in the kidney, liver, or pancreas can also derive benefits from puncture aspiration.

  • Hematoma - This is the result of blood leaking out from weakened blood vessel walls usually due to injury or disease. Types of hematoma include spinal, subdural, and subungual hematoma.

  • Bullae - Some people are afflicted with extreme cases of bullae, characterised as fluid-filled sacs that are clustered under the skin. A bulla is fairly large-sized, with some reaching more than 1 cm in diameter. This condition is caused by skin disorders, contact dermatitis, or even constant friction in the hand or feet. When a bulla causes great discomfort and pain, the patient may be offered to undergo puncture aspiration to drain out the fluid and completely dry out the affected skin.

  • Cysts - Puncture aspiration is also advised for those who have cysts, especially superficial ones that are fluid-filled. In some cases, this procedure is also recommended for those diagnosed with breast cysts.


Puncture aspiration is considered a simple procedure, with patients typically allowed to go home right after. Small to medium-sized fluid buildup can easily be treated in one session and patients usually report high success rate. However, those afflicted with large-sized abscess or cysts may need to undergo puncture aspiration several times to completely drain the accumulated fluid. The treated area should be kept clean and sterile, with regular replacement of bandages to avoid infection.

How is the Procedure Performed?

Puncture aspiration is typically performed in an outpatient setting. The physician cleans and sterilises the affected area before commencing the procedure. Using a sterile needle, the affected part is punctured. The needle is then inserted to collect the accumulated fluid. If necessary, several needles may be used to completely drain and remove the fluid. Once the physician is satisfied that the fluid buildup is gone, the needle is withdrawn and a bandage may be applied over the affected area. For abscesses and cysts located within the soft tissues of the body, one or a combination of imaging techniques may be used to guide the needle into the desired spot and a syringe is used to collect the excess fluid. A topical antibiotic or sterile bandage may be used to cover the injection site after the procedure.

Possible Risks and Complications

  • Pain and discomfort (these, however, are expected to resolve after a few days)
  • Slight risk of bleeding, especially in predisposed individuals
  • Small possibility of secondary infection at the injection site
  • Recurrence of the condition if the fluid buildup is not completely drained

    Reference:

  • CPT codes and descriptions © 2008 American Medical Association.

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