What are the risks of Thoracentesis?

By  ,  National Institute of Health
Oct 25, 2012

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The risks of thoracentesis usually are minor and get better on their own, or they're easily treated. Your doctor may do a chest x ray after the procedure to check for lung problems.

The risks of thoracentesis include:

  • Pneumothorax. This is a condition in which air collects in the pleural space (the space between the lungs and chest wall). Sometimes air comes in through the needle, or the needle makes a hole in a lung. Usually, a hole will seal itself. If enough air gets into the pleural space, however, the lung can collapse. Your doctor may need to put a tube in your chest to remove the air and let the lung expand again.
  • Pain, bleeding, bruising, or infection where the needle or tube was inserted. In rare cases, bleeding may occur in or around the lungs. Your doctor may need to put a tube in your chest to drain the blood. In some cases, surgery may be needed.
  • Liver or spleen injuries. These complications are very rare.


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