Thoracentesis Procedure


Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove excess fluid from the space between your lung and chest wall, known as the pleural space. Once the liquid is removed, your lung can more fully expand, and you can breathe easier.  

A buildup of fluid in the pleural space – called pleural effusion – may occur because of a variety of conditions including infection, heart failure or cancer.

What to Expect

A thoracentesis can be done in a doctor’s office, hospital room or in the Aurora Diagnostic and Treatment Center. 

Your doctor will begin by giving you numbing medication. Then a needle and a small plastic tube will be inserted to drain the fluid. 

You may feel pressure and, while the fluid drains, you may have the urge to cough as your lung expands. Once the fluid is removed, the needle and tubing will be removed and a small bandage will be placed on the site. 

The whole procedure usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but it can take up to 45 minutes if there’s a lot of fluid.


After the procedure, you’ll stay for a few hours so we can monitor you for complications. We’ll check your blood pressure, pulse and respirations frequently, and you may get a chest X-ray. Your doctor may send the fluid for several tests to diagnose the cause of the extra fluid.

Then a friend or relative can drive you home. You may be sore at the needle site, so you can take Tylenol or ibuprofen depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

Why Aurora?

At Aurora, we offer services for preventing, diagnosing and treating heart conditions and disorders. You can also take advantage of our full-service cardiac rehab program.

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