Thoracentesis is a procedure that uses ultrasound to locate a pocket of free fluid within the chest cavity. This assists the radiologist in placing a temporary catheter to drain the fluid.
- You will lie on an exam table with your back exposed.
- A non-greasy gel will be applied to your skin during the exam.
- The sonographer will use a hand-held transducer (probe) against your back to obtain images of the fluid in your chest.
- The sonographer then shows the radiologist the largest pocket of fluid.
- The radiologist numbs the area with Lidocaine to aid in any discomfort the procedure causes.
- The radiologist then sterilizes the area and places a temporary catheter within the chest.
Preparation & Considerations
- For Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital patients: thoracentesis is performed in our Ultrasound department. For all other locations:
- Please expect a phone call prior to your procedure informing you of specific requirements, obtaining a health history and a list of medications including blood thinners, and answering any questions that you may have.
- Blood work is required prior to most procedures.
- Please report to the Interventional Radiology Reception Desk upon arrival.
- Please ensure that you have not had anything to eat or drink after midnight the night before your procedure.
- Take your normal medications unless otherwise indicated by your physician.
- If you are diabetic, talk to your physician about your insulin dose.
- Shower or bathe the evening before or the morning of the procedure.
- Please leave jewelry and other valuables at home; we are not responsible for items that you bring into the hospital.
- Bring all medications in their labeled containers with you on the day of your procedure.
- Plan on being at the hospital for at least 4 hours.
- Plan on resting for 12 hours post procedure.
- Do not drink alcohol 48 hours before or after your procedure.
- You MUST have a responsible adult to drive you home.
- Do not operate a vehicle, heavy machinery post- procedure for the remainder of that day.
- Do not make any important decisions post-procedure for the remainder of that day.
- As a reminder, children are not allowed into the imaging room and must be supervised by another guardian while your study is being completed.