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Discharge Instructions: Ascites Shunt

You had surgery to place an ascites shunt, a tube that drains excess fluid from your abdominal space into another place in your body. The fluid buildup is called ascites. Your doctor placed the shunt during surgery. It includes a small bulb that you pump to move the ascites fluid and to keep the tube from clogging. The bulb is located under your skin, on one side near the bottom of your ribs. Your health care professional showed you how to pump the shunt in the hospital. Here are general guidelines.

Home Care

To keep the tube clear, be sure to pump the shunt at bedtime and when you get out of bed every morning. Use these steps to pump the shunt:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water.

  • Lie on your back, on your bed or couch.

  • Feel near the bottom of your ribs and locate your shunt pump. Use the hand that is on the same side as your pump.

  • When you find the pump, hold the bulb between the thumb and finger of that hand. Keep the pump firmly in place against your ribs.

  • Use a finger of your opposite hand to push down on the center of the bulb. Push against your ribs as far as you can.

  • Lift your finger slowly and let the bulb expand back to its normal shape.

  • Repeat the last two steps until you have performed the pumping action 20 times.


Make a follow-up appointment as our staff directed.


When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following:

  • Abdominal swelling or fluid buildup

  • Tenderness at the pump site

  • Trouble pumping the shunt bulb

  • Bulb will not expand back to normal after you push on it

  • Pain in your abdomen

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fever above 101.5°F (38.5°C)

  • Swelling in your arms



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