Aspiration means to draw in or out using a sucking motion. This medical term has two meanings, depending on how it is used:
Aspiration can mean breathing in a foreign object (such as sucking food into the airway).
The term can also refer to a medical procedure that removes harmful or misplaced substances from an area of the body. These substances can be air, body fluids, or bone fragments. An example is removing ascites fluid from the abdomen.
Aspiration as a medical procedure may also be used to remove tissue samples for a biopsy. This is sometimes called a needle biopsy or aspirate (for example, aspiration of a breast lesion).
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David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.