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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.

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