Lungs and Chest Excess Fluid

Thoracentesis & Pleural Drain Placement

Removal of excess fluid surrounding the lungs

Pneumonia, heart failure, cancer, liver disease, and kidney disease are a few examples of conditions that can lead to a buildup of excess fluid in the chest cavity around the lungs.

Accumulation of this fluid is called pleural effusion.The fluid can put pressure on the lungs and make it difficult to breath as well as cause discomfort.

When this occurs, an interventional radiologist may be called upon to drain the fluid with a minimally invasive procedure.

The interventional radiologist will use ultrasound imaging to look for a safe entry into the pocket of fluid.

The patient’s skin is then numbed and a small tube is inserted into the fluid through the skin.

Mild suction is used to draw the fluid out into a jar or bag. The fluid may then be tested to help guide treatment or make a diagnosis.

There are times when the interventional radiologist may recommend leaving a tube in place to allow for continual drainage of fluid.

This may be recommended when the physician expects the fluid to come back quickly or frequently.

A tube that remains in your chest for this purpose is called a pleural drain. You might also hear a more specialized type of this tube called a PleurX catheter.

Thoracentesis is typically an outpatient procedure that does not require anesthesia.

Local anesthetic will be used to numb the skin where the interventional radiologist will be entering the body.


For more information, including questions about referrals, please contact us at:

(616) 459-7225

Or, visit our Contact page.

Additional Online Resources:
The Interventional Initiative
Society of Interventional Radiology
Radiology Info for Patients

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