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  • A thoracentesis is a procedure to take fluid out of your chest. The fluid is removed from the pleural space, a space between your lungs and your inner chest wall. A needle is put in between your ribs to take out extra fluid that may be making it hard for you to breathe. Your caregiver may also do this to get a sample of the fluid to test for infection or cancer cells. You may also have this procedure done to quickly remove air that is outside of your lung.
    Picture of the normal respiratory system
  • Certain diseases or conditions may cause air or extra fluid to collect in the pleural space. This may lead to increased pressure in your chest. Increased pressure may make your lung on that side collapse (deflate) and cause you to have trouble breathing. The build up of fluid in your lung may be caused by an infection, cancer (tumor), or heart or liver problems. A thoracentesis may help your caregiver learn more about the cause of your condition. Having a thoracentesis will remove the extra fluids or air in your chest. This allows your lung on that side to expand fully so you may breathe more easily.


Take your medicine as directed:

Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your primary healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your primary healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.


Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

Do not smoke:

Smoking causes lung cancer and other long-term lung diseases. It increases your risk of many cancer types. Smoking also increases your risk of blood vessel disease, heart attack, and vision disorders. Not smoking may help prevent such symptoms as headaches and dizziness for yourself and those around you. Smokers have shorter lifespans than nonsmokers.


  • You have a fever.
  • Your bandage becomes soaked with blood.
  • Your skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash. You may be allergic to your medicine.
  • Your puncture site is swollen, red, or has pus coming from it.
  • You have questions or concerns about your procedure, medicine, or care.


  • You had a chest tube and your stitches have come apart.
  • You have trouble breathing all of a sudden or your lips turn blue.
  • The pain in your chest gets a lot worse than it was before.
  • There is blood in your sputum (spit).

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.