Thoracentesis Specialist

Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine

Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine located in Algonquin, IL

If you’re having trouble breathing, it might be due to a buildup of fluid in your lungs. Dennis Keller, MD, and Madhu Gundavaram, MD, at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine in Algonquin, Illinois, offer thoracentesis to drain the fluid and help you breathe easy again. The procedure is simple, and you can go home afterward. Get the help you need today by calling or scheduling a consultation online.

Thoracentesis Q & A

What is thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove a sample of fluid from around your lungs. The procedure involves inserting a needle through your chest wall into the pleural space.

Your lung is wrapped in a tissue called pleura. The inside of your chest is also lined with pleura. The pleural space is found between your lungs and chest wall.

A buildup of fluid in your pleural space makes it harder to breathe. Your lungs can’t inflate fully as they should. This can be painful and cause shortness of breath that’s worse when you exercise.

Why do I need thoracentesis?

The team at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine may recommend the procedure for one of these reasons:

  • New pleural effusion: thoracentesis can help pinpoint the cause of new fluid build-up in the chest
  • Infection: fluid drained during thoracentesis can be analyzed in a lab to determine the type of germ causing the infection, so you can be prescribed effective antibiotics
  • Cancer: thoracentesis can help diagnose whether cancer has spread to your lung or the pleura

You might also need thoracentesis to relieve any discomfort caused by a major buildup of fluid. Removing some fluid may make it easier to breathe and relieve pain.

How do I prepare for thoracentesis?

A member of the care team at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine will provide you with instructions beforehand. The instructions will tell you whether you need to follow a specific diet or avoid certain medications before your procedure. You’ll typically have an imaging test first to see how much fluid is around your lungs.

What happens during thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis is performed while you’re awake. When it’s time for your procedure, your provider disinfects and numbs your skin, and then inserts a needle.

The fluid may drain out of the needle or through a thin plastic tube. When the fluid has been removed, your provider applies a bandage. You won’t need stitches because the puncture site closes on its own, and you can go home afterward.  

Your provider may send a fluid sample out for lab testing.

To find out whether you’d benefit from thoracentesis for chest pain and fluid buildup, call Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine today or book a consultation online.

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