Thoracentesis is a procedure that is performed when there is an excess of fluid collected in the pleural space. This is called pleural effusion, it can compress the lungs and cause difficulty breathing. A thoracentesis procedure will make it easier for you to breathe again. The drained pleural fluid can be examined and analysed to discover the cause of fluid accumulation. Some conditions can cause this excess of fluid accumulation are:

  • cancer tumours
  • pneumonia or other lung infection
  • congestive heart failure
  • chronic lung diseases
  • A thoracentesis can be done as a day-care procedure in the hospital or even the doctor’s clinic.
  • You may be sedated so as to not feel the pain of the procedure.
  • You will be positioned in a way that allows the doctor to access the pleural space. An ultrasound may be done to ascertain where the needle will go.
  • A local anaesthetic is applied to the procedure site.
  • The doctor will insert the needle or tube below the ribs into the pleural space. The excess fluid will be drained out.
  • A follow-up X-ray may be performed right after the thoracentesis.

The possible risks of a thoracentesis include:

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • collapsed lung
  • infection
Enquiry Icon