What should I expect during a thoracentesis?

Before a thoracentesis -- a procedure in which fluid is taken from the chest cavity to relieve pressure on the diaphragm to help you breathe easier -- you will need a current chest x-ray. If you have x-rays, please bring them with you. You will be escorted to a procedure treatment room. You will be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will be seated on the edge of a bed with a cushioned tray in front of you to support your arms. Either your left or right back rib area will be cleaned with an antimicrobial solution. Your doctor will apply a local anesthetic to the area.

The doctor will insert a small needle attached to a collection bottle to drain the fluid. Be sure to let your doctor know about any allergies you have, but especially to iodine, local anesthetics, latex, or tape. Occasionally patients are required to stay a while following the procedure.

Your blood pressure, pulse, and respiration will be taken. Your doctor will also be watching for other symptoms. If at any time you feel faint, have tightness in the chest, have trouble breathing or an uncontrolled cough, please let your doctor know.

Continue Learning about Diagnostic Procedures

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.