Thoracentesis (Chest Fluid Tap)

During a thoracentesis fluid that has built up in your chest (around your lungs) is removed. This can help to relieve pain and difficulty breathing.  The active part of the procedure usually takes less than 10 minutes.  It can take up to 20 additional minutes for all of the fluid to be drained depending on how much was in your chest.  The fluid is sometimes sent to the laboratory to be analyzed.

During your procedure

The interventional radiologist will look with ultrasound to find the area with the most fluid.  This area will be cleaned and numbed with local anesthetic (lidocaine/novocaine).  A small catheter (plastic tube) will be inserted into the fluid.  

Once enough fluid has been drained, the catheter will be removed, and skin glue (Dermabond®) or a small bandage will be placed over the puncture site.

After Your Procedure
When your procedure is over, you will rest in our recovery area for a short time.  Tell your doctor or nurse if you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

You may have some pain or discomfort. Talk to your doctor or nurse about pain medications you can take, such as Tylenol® and Advil®.

Do not get the area wet for 24 hours.  After 24 hours, you can shower, but should still avoid getting the site wet.  You should not take a bath or swim for at least 3 days.

Call Your Doctor if you have:

  • New or worsening shortness of breath


Our mission at NY Imaging Specialists is to provide the highest-quality advanced imaging in a patient-centered and compassionate environment, with the comfort and convenience of being close to home.

To schedule an appointment by phone call 833-269-4624.