Thoracentesis is generally a safe procedure. A chest X-ray may be done right after the procedure to make sure that no complications have occurred. Complications may include:
A partial collapse of the lung (
pneumothorax). This may occur if the needle used to remove the pleural fluid punctures the lung, allowing air to flow into the pleural space.
Pulmonary edema, which may occur if a large amount of fluid is removed. Infection and bleeding.
Damage to the
liver or spleen, though this is rare.
Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lungs and the chest wall called the pleural space. Results from a lab are usually available in 1 to 2 working days. If the fluid is being tested for an infection, such as
tuberculosis, results may not be available for several weeks.
A small amount of clear, colorless, or pale yellow pleural fluid, usually less than
20 mL (0.7 fl oz), is normally present. No infection, inflammation, or cancer is found.
A large amount of pleural fluid is present.
Fluid may be labeled as either a transudate or an exudate. The difference between these two types of fluid has to do with the amount of protein and other substances found in the fluid.
A transudate has a low
white blood cell (WBC) count, a low lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) enzyme level, and a low protein level. A transudate may be caused by cirrhosis, heart failure, or nephrotic syndrome. An exudate may be caused by diseases, such as infection (
pneumonia), chest injury, cancer, pancreatitis, autoimmune disease, or a pulmonary embolism (PE). If an infection is present, the exudate will have a high WBC count, a high LDH enzyme level, a high protein level, and bacteria or other infectious organisms. If cancer is present, the exudate will have a high WBC count (often lymphocytes), a high LDH enzyme level, and a high protein level. Abnormal cells may also be present. If a pulmonary embolism is present, the exudate will have a low WBC count and large numbers of red blood cells.
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
August 21, 2015
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this
© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.