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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 (pleural space). This 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 have been done to help with shortness of breath and pain caused by the fluid buildup. Or your child may have had this procedure so the doctor could test the fluid to find the cause of the buildup.
Your child's chest may be sore where the doctor put the needle or catheter into the skin (the puncture site). This usually gets better after a day or two. Your child can go back to his or her normal activities as soon as your child feels up to it.
If the doctor sent the fluid to a lab for testing, it may take several days to get the results. The doctor or nurse will discuss the results with you.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for your child to recover. But each child recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to help your child get better as quickly as possible.
Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your nurse call line if your child has any problems.
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 or nurse call line 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.
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Current as of: July 6, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Marco Mannarino MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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