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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 is normal to have a small amount of fluid in the pleural space. Too much fluid can build up because of problems such as infection, heart failure, and lung cancer. The procedure may be done to help with shortness of breath and pain caused by the fluid buildup, or you may have it done so the doctor can test the fluid to find the cause of the buildup.
Your doctor will put a long, thin needle or a thin plastic tube, called a catheter, between two of your ribs. The doctor will use the needle or catheter to take fluid out.
You may get medicine before the procedure. This helps with pain and helps you relax. The procedure will take about 15 minutes. You can go back to work or your normal activities as soon as you feel up to it.
Build healthy habits into your life. Changes are best made several weeks before the procedure, since your body may react to sudden changes in your habits.
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Adaptation Date: 5/17/2023
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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