X-ray—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body
CT scan—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of the inside of the body
Ultrasound—uses sound waves to make pictures of the inside of the body
A local anesthetic will be used. It will numb the area where the needle will be inserted.
Description of the Procedure
You will usually be asked to sit upright on the edge of a bed or chair. Your arms will be resting on a nearby table. A small patch of skin on your back, chest, or under your armpit will be sterilized. Anesthesia will be applied to help numb the area. A needle will be inserted between your ribs and into the pleural space. A thin plastic catheter may be used as well. You should avoid coughing, breathing deeply, or moving during the procedure. Some or all of the fluid will be drawn into the syringe.
You may feel slight pain or a stinging when the needle is first inserted. As the fluid is being extracted, you may feel a sense of pulling. Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel extreme pain, any shortness of breath, or faint.
At the Care Center
If the thoracentesis is being done for diagnostic reasons, the fluid will be sent to a lab for testing. Often, another chest x-ray will be done to ensure that the fluid has been removed.
Keep the area of skin where the needle was inserted clean and dry. To help make your recovery smooth, be sure to follow your doctor's
If a diagnostic thoracentesis was done, ask your doctor when to expect the results.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the insertion site
Pain that you cannot control with the medicines you have been given
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a