is a procedure in which fluid is removed from the pleural space, which is the space in the lining around the lungs. Usually there is a very tiny amount of fluid contained within this space. In certain disease processes (for example, congestive heart failure or a pneumonia
abutting the pleural membrane), fluid may accumulate abnormally within the pleural space. Sometimes this fluid can be removed with the use of diuretic medications. In other circumstances, a thoracentesis is needed to either make a diagnosis of the cause of the fluid or to remove the fluid for therapeutic purposes.
The actual procedure is either done at the bedside or in the interventional radiology suite. Usually the level of the fluid is detected by physical exam or with ultrasound
. A small needle is used to inject local anesthesia (such as lidocaine) in the skin of the back under which the fluid is contained. When the skin is numb, a scalpel is used to make a small opening in the skin. A larger needle and catheter apparatus is then inserted through the skin and is used to puncture the outer pleural membrane. When the pleural space is entered, the catheter is then threaded over the needle and inserted deeper into the space. Fluid is then removed with either a vacuum container or a syringe.
Please discuss this procedure with your physician for more information.