Thoracentesis

Water or fluid around the lung (pleural fluid) is abnormal and may represent a disease in the chest or other parts of the body. A chest x-ray or CT scan of the chest usually establishes the presence of abnormal fluid in the chest. Thoracentesis is a procedure performed by a doctor to sample and/or remove fluid from around the lung. Your consent or permission is required for us to perform this procedure.

Thoracentesis is done to relieve shortness of breath from fluid build-up around the lung. Testing is performed on the fluid build-up around the lung. Moderate to large amounts of fluid around the lung can decrease the lung’s ability to function and expand. This can cause shortness of breath during physical activity or while lying down. Removing the fluid from around the lung may allow the lung to re-expand and function better.

During the procedure the staff will position you for this procedure that will typically require 15-30 minutes. Be sure to inform the staff if you are taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin, aspirin, etc. You should be free from these drugs for at least 5-7 days. The doctor will inject a small amount of local anesthetic under the skin to numb the area. You may feel a slight stinging when the medication is injected. The doctor will place a small, thin needle into your chest to remove the fluid. As the lung re-expands toward the end of the procedure, you may experience mild tightness in the chest or coughing. Your vital signs will be measured and monitored during the procedure. Your doctor may recommend that you have a chest x-ray after the thoracentesis procedure. If so, you will need to wait at the hospital until after the chest x-ray is reviewed. This x-ray will show any possible lung collapse that may have resulted from the procedure.