Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove fluid from the space between the lining of the outside of the lungs (pleura) and the wall of the chest.
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How the Test is Performed
The test is done in the following way:
You sit on a bed or on the edge of a chair or bed. Your head and arms rest on a table.
The skin around the procedure site is cleaned. A local numbing medicine (anesthetic) is injected into the skin.
A needle is placed through the skin and muscles of the chest wall into the space around the lungs, called the pleural space. The health care provider may use ultrasound to find the best spot to insert the needle.
You may be asked to hold your breath or breathe out during the procedure.
You should not cough, breathe deeply, or move during the test to avoid injury to the lung.
Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.