Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lungs and the chest wall called the pleural space. It is done with a Reference needle Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window (and sometimes a plastic catheter) inserted through the chest wall. Reference Ultrasound Opens New Window pictures are often used to guide the placement of the needle. This pleural fluid may be sent to a lab to determine what may be causing the fluid to build up in the pleural space.
Normally only a small amount of pleural fluid is present in the pleural space. A buildup of excess pleural fluid (Reference pleural effusion Opens New Window Reference Opens New Window) may be caused by many conditions, such as infection, inflammation, Reference heart failure Opens New Window, or cancer. If a large amount of fluid is present, it may be hard to breathe. Fluid inside the pleural space may be found during a physical examination and is usually confirmed by a chest Reference X-ray Opens New Window.
|By:||Reference Healthwise Staff||Last Revised: Reference November 1, 2012|
|Medical Review:||Reference Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Reference Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology