Skip to content

Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Font Size
A
A
A

Thoracentesis

Risks

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.

Results

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.

Thoracentesis
Normal:

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.

Abnormal:

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.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 01, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

man coughing
You may not even know you have it.
blood clot
Signs of this potentially fatal complication.
 
man coughing
When a cold becomes bronchitis.
human lungs
Causes behind painful breathing, fluid buildup.
 

chest x-ray
Slideshow
Bronchitis Overview
SLIDESHOW
 
Copd Myth Fact Quiz
QUIZ
Energy Boosting Foods
SLIDESHOW
 

Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

It's nothing to sneeze at.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

lungs
Article
smokestacks
Article
 
woman coughing
Article
Lung xray and caduceus
Article
 

WebMD Special Sections