Aspiration means to draw in or out using suction. The medical term has two meanings, depending on how it is used. It can refer to breathing in a foreign object (such as sucking food into the airway).

The term can also refer to a medical procedure to remove harmful or misplaced substances from a body cavity, such as air, body fluids, or bone fragments. (An example is removing ascites fluid from the abdomen.) This procedure may also be used to remove tissue samples for a biopsy, sometimes called a needle biopsy or aspirate. (For example, aspiration of a breast lesion.)

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.

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