Breathe Easier With a Thoracentesis

There’s nothing worse than not being able to breathe easily. If you’re struggling to get your breath or experiencing chest pain, the cause might be fluid accumulation around one or both of your lungs. 

At Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, our team of highly skilled pulmonary experts can help you find relief. Dennis Kellar, MD, Madhu Gundavaram, MD, and our other exceptional providers are dedicated to helping you breathe easier by customizing a comprehensive treatment plan for your unique needs. 

If you have fluid around your lungs, we can perform a quick and simple outpatient procedure called a thoracentesis, which can help you breathe easier. Read on to learn if a thoracentesis is right for you.

What is a thoracentesis?

A thoracentesis is a simple procedure that removes fluid from around your lungs. The space around your lungs, called the pleural space, usually has a small amount of liquid in it. Different conditions can cause the fluid to build up, which can put excess pressure on your lungs and make it difficult to breathe.

With a thoracentesis, your provider at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine inserts a needle through your skin, between the ribs, and into the pleural space to drain some of the fluid.  

Why might I need a thoracentesis?

Your doctor may recommend a thoracentesis if you have a major buildup of fluid around your lungs. By draining a portion of this fluid, your lungs will be better able to inflate fully, which will allow you to breathe easier. 

Certain conditions that cause a buildup of fluid may also necessitate a thoracentesis. These may include:

What’s involved in a thoracentesis?

If your care provider at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine determines you can benefit from a thoracentesis, you will receive specific instructions on how to prepare, which can vary depending on your health and any medications you’re taking.

During your appointment, you’ll remain awake. Your team member will clean and numb the treatment area. Then they will insert a needle between your ribs and into your chest to drain the fluid in the pleural space. Imaging technology, such as an ultrasound or X-ray, may be used to guide the needle to the correct place.

Once the procedure is complete, your provider will bandage the treatment area and you’ll be free to return home. No stitches are required since the puncture will close on its own. The entire procedure should take less than 30 minutes.

Depending on your situation, our team may send the fluid to a laboratory for further testing. Most patients don’t experience any discomfort, and the most common reaction is the urge to cough as the fluid is removed and your lungs expand normally.

If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or feel faint, be sure to alert your provider. 

To see if you could benefit from a thoracentesis for fluid buildup, book an appointment online or over the phone with Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today.

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