What is a Thoracentesis?
Thoracentesis is a minimally invasive procedure performed by a radiologist in which fluid that has collected in the pleural space between the lungs and the chest wall is drained through an inserted needle. The fluid buildup is called a pleural effusion and may be caused by a variety of different medical conditions. A large pleural effusion can partially compress your lung and can make it difficult to breathe.
Thoracentesis may be a diagnostic or therapeutic procedure. If the cause of the pleural effusion is uncertain, diagnostic thoracentesis is performed, and a sample of the fluid is sent to a lab for analysis in order to determine the cause. Therapeutic thoracentesis is often performed as a comfort measure in people with known causes of pleural effusion to remove excess fluid and relieve pressure as part of the treatment plan.