Pleural fluid aspiration; Pleural tap
A chest x-ray is commonly done after the procedure to detect possible complications.
Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lining of the outside of the lungs (pleura) and the wall of the chest.
The test is done in the following way:
You will feel a stinging sensation when the local anesthetic is injected. You may feel pain or pressure when the needle is inserted into the pleural space.
No special preparation is needed before the test. A chest x-ray or ultrasound will be done before and after the test.
DO NOT cough, breathe deeply, or move during the test to avoid injury to the lung.
Normally the pleural cavity contains only a very small amount of fluid.
Risks may include any of the following:
Testing the fluid will help your provider determine the cause of pleural effusion. Possible causes include:
If your provider suspects that you have an infection, a culture of the fluid may be done to test for bacteria.
Normally, very little fluid is in the pleural space. A buildup of too much fluid between the layers of the pleura is called a pleural effusion.
The test is performed to determine the cause of the extra fluid, or to relieve symptoms from the fluid buildup.
Alder EH, Blok BK. Thoracentesis. In: Roberts JR, ed. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 9.
Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Thoracentesis - diagnostic. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:1068-1070.
Review Date: 8/21/2016
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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