Thoracentesis is a procedure used to remove excess fluid from the chest. In some cases of lung cancer, fluid builds up in the pleural space (the area between the lungs and the chest wall). This condition is known as pleural effusion. The accumulated fluid makes it harder for the lungs to expand, so breathing can become difficult. Removing the fluid can make it easier to breathe and relieve the symptoms of shortness of breath.
What does it involve?
The procedure is performed under a local anesthetic. An area in your back will be numbed and a long, thin needle will be inserted into your chest cavity. The needle will be used to remove fluid from the pleural space. Ultrasound may be used to place the needle accurately. The procedure usually takes 10 to 15 minutes.
Risks from thoracentesis include pneumothorax (collapsed lung), pain, bleeding, bruising, and infection.
For more details about this treatment, visit:
Thoracentesis — National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Palliative Procedures for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer — American Cancer Society
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