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Treatment / Thoracentesis (PleurX/Aspira)


Certain conditions such as infection, inflammation, heart failure, or cancer can cause fluid to build up in the space between the lungs and the chest wall (pleural space). Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove excess fluid from the pleural space.

Am I a Candidate for Thoracentesis?

Typically only a small amount of pleural fluid is present in the flexural space. A build up of fluid can make it hard to breathe. Fluid inside the pleural space may be found during a physical examination and is typically confirmed by an x-ray of the chest.

A thoracentesis can be done in order to:

  • Diagnose the cause of the excess pleural fluid (pleural effusion)
  • Relieve shortness of breath and pain caused by the excess fluid

What to Expect from the Procedure

Using image guidance your vascular and interventional radiologist (VIR) will insert a needle through the skin between two ribs on your back. When the needle reaches the space between the chest wall and the lung, the excess fluid will be removed through a syringe or a suction device. At the end of the procedure, the needle will be removed and pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding at the site. No sutures are required; the opening in the skin will be covered with a dressing.


The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis and takes about 15 minutes to complete. After your thoracentesis you may rest in a recovery area before being sent home. Most patients can return to normal daily activities the next day.

As with any procedure complications can occur:

  • Pneumothorax or partial collapse of the lung caused by the needle puncturing the lung allowing air to flow into the pleural space
  • Pulmonary edema –can occur if a large amount of fluid is removed
  • Infection or bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing

Whether or not you are a candidate for thoracentesis will depend on your diagnosis and consultation with your interventional radiologist. Call IVC today for more information at 503-612-0498.

* This information about Thoracentesis was reviewed by Dr. Jason R. Bauer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using the form below.

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We are announcing that Interventional and Vascular Consultants will be closing as of March 10, 2023.

We would like to thank you for the trust you have given us over the years, participating in your healthcare needs has been a privilege.

To assist in a smooth transition to a new provider, you may access your records from your MyHealth account or request a copy of medical records by clicking the link below and completing the Release of Information form.

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Please know that we have greatly valued our relationship with you and wish you the best.


Jason Bauer, MD RVT
Michael Pfister, MD RVT

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