- National Institute of Health
Thoracentesis is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall to remove excess fluid from the pleural space so that you can breathe more easily.
Thoracentesis is a procedure in which a needle is inserted into the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall. This procedure is done to remove excess fluid known as pleural effusion from the pleural space to help you breathe more easily. It can be done to determine the cause of your pleural effusion. Some conditions, such as heart failure, lung infections, and tumors, can cause pleural effusions.
Thoracentesis is performed in a doctor's office or hospital. The procedure usually takes 10 to 15 minutes, unless you have a lot of fluid in your pleural space. For the procedure, most patients sit quietly on the edge of a chair or bed with their heads and arms on a table. Your doctor can use ultrasound to determine the best place to insert the needle. After cleaning the skin around the area where the needle will be inserted, your doctor will inject anesthetic medicines. A needle is inserted into the pleural space between your ribs. You may feel some discomfort or pressure when the needle is inserted. If your doctor draws excess fluid from your lungs, you may have a cough or chest pain. The needle is removed and a small bandage is applied to the site.
After the procedure, your blood pressure and breathing will be checked to make sure you don't have any complications. The fluid removed from your breast will be sent for laboratory testing to determine the cause of your pleural effusion and to help plan your treatment. Your doctor can order a chest X-ray to check for lung problems.
The risks of thoracentesis include a pneumothorax or collapsed lung, pain, bleeding, bruising, or infection. Liver or spleen injuries are rare complications.
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