Why Would Someone Need A Thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis is a minimally invasive procedure that doctors use to diagnose and treat pleural effusions. This is a condition in which there is excess fluid in the pleural space, also called the pleural cavity. This space exists between the outside of the lungs and the inside of the chest wall.

What are the indications for thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis is indicated for the symptomatic treatment of large pleural effusions or for treatment of empyemas. It is also indicated for pleural effusions of any size that require diagnostic analysis.

When is a thoracentesis performed?

Thoracentesis should be performed diagnostically whenever the excessive fluid is of unknown etiology. It can be performed therapeutically when the volume of fluid is causing significant clinical symptoms. Typically, diagnostic thoracentesis is a small volume (single 20cc to 30cc syringe).

What is the difference between paracentesis and thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis refers to the removal of fluid from the space between the lungs and the chest wall, called the pleural cavity. Paracentesis refers to removing fluid from the abdominal cavity.

Are you awake during a thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis can be done in a doctor’s office or in a hospital. It’s typically performed while you’re awake, but you may be sedated. You’ll need someone else to help you get home after the procedure if you’re sedated.

What are the complications of thoracentesis?

What are the risks of thoracentesis?

  • Air in the space between the lung covering (pleural space) that causes the lung to collapse (pneumothorax)
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Liver or spleen injury (rare)

What can cause pleural effusion?

Exudative (protein-rich fluid) pleural effusions are most commonly caused by:

  • Pneumonia.
  • Cancer.
  • Pulmonary embolism.
  • Kidney disease.
  • Inflammatory disease.

Can fluid come back after thoracentesis?

You may still have fluid leakage for up to 72 hours (3 days) after your procedure. If you don’t have leakage, you can take the bandage off in 24 hours. During this time, you must keep the bandage dry. If you do have leakage, apply the extra gauze with a bandage over it.

Is fluid in the lungs pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in one or both lungs. The air sacs may fill with fluid or pus (purulent material), causing cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.

Is thoracentesis a diagnostic test?

Diagnostic thoracentesis, or sampling of a pleural effusion using a needle through the chest wall, is a simple procedure done to look for the cause of a pleural effusion. Thoracentesis may also be used as a treatment to help relieve symptoms of an effusion.

Can thoracentesis cause death?

Patients undergoing thoracentesis for pleural effusion have high short and long-term mortality. Patients with malignant effusion had the highest mortality followed by multiple benign etiologies, CHF and renal failure. Bilateral pleural effusion is distinctly associated with high mortality.

Is thoracentesis a major surgery?

Thoracentesis is usually considered a minimally invasive surgery, which means it does not involve any major surgical cuts or incisions and is typically performed under local anesthesia. It is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lungs and chest wall or pleural space.

Can pleural effusion be cured?

A minor pleural effusion often goes away on its own without treatment. In other cases, doctors may need to treat the condition that is causing the pleural effusion. For example, you may get antibiotics to treat pneumonia. Or you could get other medicines to treat heart failure.

Can you recover from malignant pleural effusion?

Malignant pleural effusion (MPE) is a common but serious condition that is related with poor quality of life, morbidity and mortality. Its incidence and associated healthcare costs are rising and its management remains palliative, with median survival ranging from 3 to 12 months.

What does pleural effusion indicate?

A pleural effusion is a buildup of extra fluid in the space between the lungs and the chest wall. This area is called the pleural space. About half of people with cancer develop a pleural effusion. When cancer grows in the pleural space, it causes a malignant pleural effusion.

How do you know if pleural effusion is malignant?

Malignancy is the most common cause of massive pleural effusion and, if this is the case, clinical signs may be obvious. Chest signs consistent with the pleural effusion include reduced expansion, dull percussion note, reduced breath sounds, and reduced vocal resonance.

Is pleural effusion serious?

Certain medical conditions can cause a pleural effusion. Pleural effusions are common, with approximately 1 million cases diagnosed in the United States every year, according to the American Thoracic Society. It’s a serious condition associated with an increased risk of death.

What is the most common complication of thoracentesis?

Pneumothorax is the most common complication of thoracentesis.

What color should fluid drained from lungs be?

A thoracentesis is a procedure used to drain excess fluid from the space outside of the lungs but inside the chest cavity. Normally, this area contains about 20 milliliters of clear or yellow fluid. If there’s excess fluid in this area, it can cause symptoms such as shortness of breath and coughing.

How much fluid can be removed during a thoracentesis?

Traditional guidelines recommend that the volume of fluid removed during a thoracentesis should be limited to <1.5 liters, to avoid re-expansion pulmonary edema.

How common is thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis is performed over 170,000 times each year in the U.S. — so it’s surprising that there is little data on its outcomes or risks. The best previous estimate of pneumothorax risk is 6% (<2% with ultrasound guidance), based on a 2010 meta-analysis including 6,600 thoracenteses.

Is a thoracentesis the same as a chest tube?


Thoracentesis involves placing a thin needle or tube into the pleural space to remove some of the fluid. The needle or tube is inserted through the skin, between the ribs and into the chest. The needle or tube is removed when the procedure is completed.

What kind of doctor does a thoracentesis?

The following specialists perform thoracentesis: Pulmonologists specialize in the medical care of people with breathing problems and diseases and conditions of the lungs. Pediatric pulmonologists specialize in the medical care of infants, children and adolescents with diseases and conditions of the lungs.