Thoracentesis is a minimally invasive bedside procedure. It is used to remove excess fluid from the space between the lungs and chest, called the pleural space. This procedure is used when a patient has a pleural effusion.
It is done under local anesthesia. For the procedure, most patients sit on the edge of a chair or bed with their head and arms resting on a table. The Doctor will use ultrasound to determine the best location to insert the needle. After cleaning the skin around the area where the needle will be inserted, your doctor will inject numbing medicine. A needle is inserted between your ribs into the pleural space. You may feel pressure when the needle is inserted. As your doctor draws out excess fluid from around your lungs, you may feel like coughing or have minor chest discomfort. The needle will be removed, and a small bandage will be applied to the site.
After the procedure, your blood pressure and breathing will be monitored to make sure you do not have complications. The fluid that was removed from your chest will be sent for laboratory testing to determine the cause of your pleural effusion and to help plan your treatment. Your doctor may order a chest x ray to check for lung problems after the procedure.