Thoracentesis: Facilitating Diagnoses Associated with Fluid Accumulation between the Lung and the Chest Wall

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Patient Information

Thoracentesis
revised December 2004

The purpose of this document is to provide written information regarding the risks, benefits and alternatives of the procedure named above. This material serves as a supplement to the discussion you have with your physician. It is important that you fully understand this information, so please read this document thoroughly.

The Procedure: Thoracentesis is performed to facilitate the diagnoses of various conditions associated with fluid accumulation in the space between the lung and the chest wall (pleural space). In the procedure, a needle is inserted between the ribs so that fluid can be removed from the pleural space. The fluid is analyzed for cells and chemicals. A local anesthetic is used to minimize your discomfort. This procedure may also be used to remove a large volume of fluid from the pleural space to alleviate the symptom of shortness of breath associated with a large collection of fluid in the pleural space.

Benefits

You might receive the following benefits. The doctors cannot guarantee you will receive any of these benefits. Only you can decide if the benefits are worth the risk.

1. To improve accuracy of diagnosis.
2. To reduce discomfort associated with accumulation of fluid in the pleural space. Risks
Before undergoing one of these procedures, understanding the associated risks is essential. No procedure is completely risk-free. The following risks are well recognized, but there may also be risks not included in this list that are unforeseen by your doctors.

1. There may be bleeding or infection, necessitating further surgery. 2. There may be injury to the nerves, resulting in shoulder or neck pain. 3. The wound may be slow to heal; there may be fluid leakage, or scarring. 4. There may be injury to the abdominal organs, necessitating further surgery. 5. The lung may collapse, resulting in shortness of breath and necessitating placement of a chest tube...
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