Your doctor may recommend thoracentesis if you have a pleural effusion. A pleural effusion is the buildup of excess fluid in the pleural space (the space between the lungs and chest wall).
Doctors use thoracentesis to find the cause of a pleural effusion. The procedure also might be done to remove excess fluid from the pleural space and help you breathe easier.
The most common cause of a pleural effusion is heart failure. This is a condition in which the heart can't pump enough blood to the body.
Other causes include lung cancer, tumors, pneumonia, tuberculosis, pulmonary embolism (PULL-mun-ary EM-bo-lizm), and other lung infections. Asbestosis (as-bes-TOE-sis), sarcoidosis (sar-koy-DO-sis), and reactions to some drugs also can lead to a pleural effusion.
Your doctor will diagnose a pleural effusion based on your medical history, a physical exam, and test results.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, such as trouble breathing, coughing, and hiccups. He or she also may ask whether you've ever:
Your doctor will listen to your breathing with a stethoscope and tap lightly on your chest. If you have a pleural effusion, your breathing may sound muffled. Your doctor also may hear a dull sound when tapping on your chest.
You may have one or more of the following tests to diagnose a pleural effusion.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Thoracentesis, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
November 20, 2013
Gary H. Gibbons
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