Thoracentesis is a procedure that uses ultrasound to locate a pocket of free fluid within the chest cavity. This assists the pulmonologist in placing a temporary catheter to drain the fluid.


  • At Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital this is performed in the Ultrasound department and uses the preparation information that follows. For other locations, you will receive preparation information from the Interventional Radiology department at your location in advance of your scheduled appointment.
  • You must have labs drawn prior to having this procedure done: PT, PTT, INR.
  • The pulmonologist sometimes has the labs already drawn before scheduling this procedure.
  • You may eat or drink before this exam.
  • Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to your scheduled appointment for your blood draw, or have it done the night before.
  • Bring a prescription from your doctor.


  • You will sit upright 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 pulmonologist the largest pocket of fluid.
  • The pulmonologist numbs the area with Lidocaine to aid in any discomfort the procedure causes.
  • The pulmonologist then sterilizes the area and places a temporary catheter within the chest.


Let the technologist know:

  • If you take any medications.
  • If you have an allergy to Lidocaine.
  • If you have difficulty sitting upright.
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