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What is a Thoracentesis?
Your healthcare provider has requested that you undergo a procedure to remove fluid from your chest. The fluid is in the space between your lung and chest wall. This fluid compresses your lung and will often make breathing difficult. A thoracentesis is the removal of that fluid which will improve your symptoms and assist in making a diagnosis.
How Should I Prepare?
Prior to your procedure, you should make sure all medications and allergies are updated. If you are on a blood thinner you may be requested to stop that medication for a period of time. Labs may be required to check the ability of your blood to clot.
How is the Procedure Performed?
The procedure will be performed by a qualified healthcare professional with specific training in Interventional Radiology. The procedure will be performed under CT- or ultrasound-guidance to safely identify the location of the fluid.
A thoracentesis will most often be performed while sitting upright with your arms resting upon a table in front of you. The skin is cleaned with a sterilizing solution and numbing medicine is injected into the skin A needle is inserted allowing for the fluid to be removed into a bottle.
What Should I Expect After the Procedure?
After the procedure, you may experience an urge to cough, which is a natural response. Some patients will experience temporary shortness of breath along with chest or shoulder pressure. Afterwards, you may have a series of x-rays to monitor for any complications.
Who Interprets the Results?
The fluid may be sent to the lab for further evaluation. The physician who ordered the procedure will convey these results to you.