Doctors use thoracentesis fluid extraction in the treatment of one of the most common lung problems. Find out why and how do they use it.

Thoracentesis is the most common technique for the treatment of pleural effusion. It consists of extracting the pleural fluid by means of a puncture.

The term “pleural effusion” refers to the presence of an abnormal amount of fluid in the pleural cavity. Also, the pleura is a set of envelopes that cover and protect the lungs.

On the other hand, there is naturally a small amount of fluid between the different layers. In this way, it acts as a lubricant between them and allows the expansion and compression movements of these organs.

Currently, the medical team has been able to point out a series of disorders that can cause a pulmonary effusion. Among them we can find heart disease (especially heart failure). Also diseases that affect the respiratory system (such as tuberculosis or pneumonia). Also, cancer, some liver disorders and certain types of medications can cause this problem.

In addition, some unhealthy habits such as alcohol consumption or smoking may increase the chances of developing this condition.

Types of pleural effusion

There are clinical cases in which the patient does not develop any specific symptoms. However, the individual usually suffers from a series of characteristic signals. For example, difficulty breathing, cough, hiccups, severe discomfort in the chest area, chills and even moderate fever. In any case, we can differentiate between:

Transudative pleural effusion. It is due to an infiltration of a liquid in this space. In fact, it is usually related to hypertension (increased pressure in the blood vessels) or a condition of blood proteins. It is usually associated with disorders such as heart failure.

Exudative pleural effusion. In this case, the alteration is due to a blockage in blood or lymphatic vessels of the nearby areas. Its causes are more varied: tuberculosis, pneumonia, lung tumors etc.

If the medical team thinks that a patient has a pleural effusion, they will perform a series of medical tests to confirm it. Among them are diagnostic imaging techniques (such as CT, radiography or ultrasound). A videothoracoscopy and subsequent analysis of the sample of pleural fluid removed may also be performed. In this way, the characteristics of this fluid in each patient are identified.

Either way, the ultimate goal of specialists will be to calm the patient through proper treatment. To solve the pleural effusion, sufficient amount should be removed so that the patient ventilates normally again. The most commonly used technique to accomplish that goal is thoracentesis. However, experts should also address the underlying cause or trigger that caused this alteration.

What is thoracentesis?

Also known as “pleural paracentesis,” “thoracic paracentesis,” or “pleurocentesis,” torococentesis is a medical procedure in which a variable amount of pleural fluid is removed.

We can differentiate between two types of thoracentesis:

Therapy. The doctor drains a large amount of fluid to relieve the pressure on the chest. Thus, it calms the pain the patient feels and he can breathe easily again.

Diagnostic. In this case, the doctor extracts and analyzes a small sample of fluid is in a specialized center such as a laboratory.

Does the patient need a previous preparation?

As in other surgical interventions, as a patient should know all the information of the method to follow and its risks. Later, you’ll need to give your consent to carry out the surgery.

Also, the patient should tell the specialists what medication he usually takes and if he thinks he could be pregnant. Other information of great interest are the allergies that you have developed and if you are suffering from any alteration at the moment.

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How do doctors extract the thoracentesis fluid?

First, you should wash the chest area carefully and apply a local anesthetic to avoid the discomfort of the puncture. After locating the position of the pleural effusion, the doctor must choose the puncture site. The most recommended area is between the two ribs below the upper limit of the spill.

Later, the doctor introduces the needle to the proper position and removes a small amount of fluid for analysis. The doctor can also connect the needle to a catheter that will maintain drainage for as long as the specialist indicates.

In any case, you should avoid the entry of air into the pleural cavity since it results in a complication called pneumothorax.

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