What must one expect before Thoracentesis

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 17, 2013
Quick Bites

  • Your doctor will inform you facts about thoracentesis.
  • Tell your doctor if you are taking any medicines.
  • Also tell him about any allergies that you have.
  • Pregnant women should also inform their doctor.

Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lining of the outside of the lungs (pleura) and the wall of the chest.
No special preparation is needed before the test. A chest x-ray will be performed before and after the test. Do not cough, breathe deeply, or move during the test to avoid injury to the lung.

What to expect Before Thoracentesis

Before thoracentesis, your doctor will talk to you about the procedure and how to prepare for it. Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are taking any medicines.
  • Have allergies to any medicines, including anesthetics.
  • Have any bleeding problems or take blood thinners, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), or warfarin (Coumadin).
  • Are or might be pregnant.


Also, certain conditions may increase the difficulty of thoracentesis. Let your doctor know if you have:

  • Had lung surgery. The scarring from the first procedure may make it difficult to do this procedure.
  • A long-term (chronic), irreversible lung disease, such as emphysema.

A chest X-ray is usually done before the procedure. Your doctor may order certain blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and clotting factors, before your procedure.Thoracentesis is not a safe or appropriate procedure for some patients. After talking with your doctor, he or she will determine whether you are a good candidate for thoracentesis. Patients who have had recent lung surgery may have scarring, which can make the procedure difficult.

Patients who should not undergo thoracentesis include:

  • patients with a bleeding disorder
  • patients with heart failure or enlargement of the right side of the heart
  • patients on blood thinners


Risks of the procedure

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Pneumothorax is when air becomes trapped in the pleural space causing the lung to collapse
  • Pulmonary edema, which is fluid in the lungs
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Thoracentesis is contraindicated in certain bleeding conditions.

There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.

Image Courtesy: Getty

Read more articles on Thoracentesis.



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