Thoracentesis is a procedure performed in our office to remove fluid from around the lung (pleural effusion). The lung space normally has a small amount of fluid between the lining, but certain conditions such as pneumonia, cancer or heart failure can cause an abnormal amount of fluid to be present. The excess fluid can cause shortness of breath or discomfort in your chest.
Your physician will use an ultrasound to examine the fluid collection and your lung. He/she will then clean and disinfect the skin where the procedure will be performed. Numbing medication is used at the site of the procedure and a sterile needle is inserted into the space between your lung and the lining (pleura) to remove the fluid. The fluid will be drained and a sample sent to the lab for testing if necessary.
Once the fluid has been drained, the needle is removed and pressure held on the site for a short time. Stitches are not necessary to close the site. A band aid may be applied to avoid any leaking of fluid on your clothing (similar to a blood draw). You will be provided follow up instructions and may resume normal activities after leaving the office.