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Thoracentesis (say "thor-uh-sen-TEE-sis") is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lungs and the chest wall. This is called the pleural space. The procedure may also be called a "chest tap."
It's normal to have a small amount of fluid in the pleural space. But too much fluid can build up because of problems such as infection or heart failure. The procedure may be done to help with shortness of breath and pain caused by the fluid buildup. Or your child may have it done so the doctor can test the fluid to find the cause of the buildup.
The doctor will put a long, thin needle or a thin plastic tube called a catheter between two of your child's ribs. The doctor will use the needle or catheter to take fluid out.
Your child may get medicine before the procedure. This helps with pain and helps your child relax. The procedure will take about 15 minutes.
If the doctor sends the fluid to a lab for testing, it usually takes a few hours to get the results. Some of the test results may take a few days. The doctor or nurse will discuss the results with you.
Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.
Procedures can be stressful for both your child and you. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your child's procedure.
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Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Marco Mannarino MD - Family Medicine
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