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
needle (and sometimes a plastic catheter) inserted
through the chest wall. Ultrasound 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 (pleural effusion ) may be caused by many
conditions, such as infection, inflammation,
heart failure, 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
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
November 1, 2012
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