What is a thoracentesis?
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.
Normally, there is little fluid (about 4 teaspoons!) in this cavity, or pleural space. A buildup of too much fluid between the layers of the pleura is called a pleural effusion. When extra fluid presses on the lungs, it can make it hard to breathe.
Why would you need a thoracentesis?
Pleural effusion is very uncomfortable. The procedure is performed to relieve the symptoms of fluid buildup and increase patient comfort.
The collected fluid can be sent to the laboratory to be tested to determine the cause of the fluid building. This test is called pleural fluid analysis. Sometimes the procedure is performed for both patient comfort and test purposes.
Our ability to use imaging guidance and cutting-edge technology minimizes patient risk. Prior to your procedure, your physician will discuss any potential risks with you.
Conditions to let us know about
Let your doctor know if you currently are pregnant or breast feeding, feeling ill, have a fever, or are taking any blood thinners.
Thoracentesis is covered by most private insurance providers as well as Medicare. We will seek authorization from your insurance company prior to your procedure.
Preparing for your procedure
If you are on blood thinners your doctor will instruct you if you need to stop these medications prior to the procedure. If your procedure requires sedation, then you will need a responsible adult to give you a ride home.
Recovering from your procedure
You may possibly receive mild to moderate sedation during your procedure. You will stay in the recovery area until you are ready for discharge. You will be given written post procedure discharge instructions that will advise you about return to normal physical activity. If you have any questions after your procedure, please call the RIA Interventional Suite at 720-493-3406.