How Is It Determined That a Thoracentesis Procedure Needs to Be Done?


Quick Answer

Thoracenesis procedure is done if a patient has excess fluid in his or her pleural space that is determined after a physical examination and confirmed by a chest X-ray. Excess fluid in the pleural space causes breathing difficulties to the patients. The space between the lungs and the chest wall normally has a fluid of about 4 teaspoons, as stated by the National Institutes of Health.

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Full Answer

Conditions, such as tumors, lung cancer and heart failure, may cause more fluid to build up in the space, which presses the lungs making breathing difficult. Medical practioners use thoracentesis procedure to find the cause of the pleural fusion or help the patient breathe easier. The procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes to perform but it can take longer depending on the amount of fluid in the space, as stated by Healthline.

There is no special preparation for the procedure for the patient. The thoracentesis procedure is not a safe procedure for everyone. Patients who had lung surgery may be scared to undergo the procedure. Patients on blood thinners, bleeding disorder and heart failure should not be considered to undergo the procedure. Risk factors of this procedure includes lung failure, infection, severe pain, and bleeding, as stated by Healthline.

A follow up X-ray may be required for patients who have undergone the procedure to establish any complications. A pleural biopsy may be done at the same time as a thoracentesis to collect a sample of tissue from the inner lining of the chest wall, as stated by WebMD.

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