Thoracentesis
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What are Thoracentesis?

A pleural effusion is a build-up of fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall. This space is called the pleural space. Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from this area.

There are two types of thoracentesis:

  • Therapeutic thoracentesis—to relieve the symptoms of fluid accumulation
  • Diagnostic thoracentesis—to test for the cause of the fluid build-up

There is always a small amount of fluid in the pleural space. The fluid helps to lubricate the area. When too much fluid builds up in this space, it can make it difficult to breathe.

Your doctor may want to test some of the fluid after extracting it. The build-up of fluid can be a symptom of diseases or disorders, such as:

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF)
  • Lung infections
  • Kidney disease
  • Pulmonary embolism (a blot clot that travels to the lung)
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a thoracentesis, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • A collapsed lung
  • Fluid building up again
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to the liver or spleen

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

  • A history of lung surgery
  • A long-term, irreversible lung disease (such as emphysema or asthma )
  • Anything affecting normal blood clotting

Call Your Doctor

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the insertion site *...
 
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