Pleurocentesis (Thoracentesis) Procedure, Risks & Complications

PleurocentesisBefore we let you know about Pleurocentesis risks, procedures and complication, you first need to know what exactly is Pleurocentesis.


Pleurocentesis is also called Thoracentesis which is a surgical procedure used to remove excess fluid from the pleural spaces of the lungs. By undergoing this procedure, doctors are able to treat or diagnose various types of pleural effusions.

As Pleurocentesis is minimal invasive, doctors sometimes use it as palliative treatment for certain type of pleural mesothelioma patients.


What Is a Pleurocentesis (Thoracentesis)?

As we mentioned above, Pleurocentesis is basically a surgical procedure which can be minimal invasive and used to remove excess fluid from pleural cavity of lungs using a hollow needle.

It all happens due to prolonged asbestosexposure that results in diseases like mesothelioma. 

And when it happens, excess fluid in the lungs starts building up. In such a scenario, it can lead to various discomforts like breathing difficulties, discomfort, chest pain and cough related problems.

The above condition is also known as pleural effusion. In general, it is healthy to have a small amount of fluid around pleura. But it causes problems when excess fluid starts building up giving various complications.

In such cases, a thoracentesis procedure is implied to give relief to the patient.


Pleurocentesis Facts

Check below some facts related to Pleurocentesis below:

  • Pleurocentesis is less palliative treatment, especially for late-stage mesothelioma cases
  • Less permanent solution as compared to catheter insertion or pleurodesis procedure
  • It's used to diagnose and treat a number of pleural effusions cases
  • Pleurocentesis involves removing excess build up of pleural fluid through a hollow needle


The above procedure (Pleurocentesis) is also known as Thoracentesis. It's also termed as “pleural tap,” “pleurocentesis” and “thoracocentesis.”

In order to conduct Pleurocentesis, a chest X-ray is first conducted. Although, there can be several causes of pleural effusion, the exact cause can be determined only after the fluid collected by doctors.

In general, thoracentesis procedure is not at all recommended to or reliable to confirm mesothelioma diagnosis. It's because such a condition can only be determined by examining a cancer tissue sample which is collected through a biopsy.


Palliative Thoracentesis Versus Other Treatments 

Palliative therapies for pleural mesothelioma are basically employed to get relieved from painful symptoms. It also helps improve patient's quality life.

When doctors remove the excess fluid from pleural lining, it alleviates symptoms like chest pain and some other symptoms like shortness of breath by simply reducing pressure on lungs and chest wall.

It happens by providing more space for lungs to expand att he time of breathing.

Pleurocentesis or Thoracentesis can be less common as a mesothelioma treatment compared to some other procedures like: 

  • Mesothelioma patients who are diagnosed with some early stage cancer but are having a great health are eligible for a more aggressive surgery. In this procedure, the deceased part of the lung (pleura) is removed. 
  • There is another option for doctors where they insert a catheter. It acts as an indwelling pleural catheter. It constantly drains the pleura. Doing this procedure not only saves time but also helps the patient by not undergoing repeated thoracentesis procedures
  • Pleurocentesis is a procedure which has benefitted so many mesothelioma patients. It mainly drains the excess fluid from pleural lining which is already built up there.

However, those patients who are weak may not suit the above procedures. And so, another approach is implied to such patients. The less invasive procedure is a tried and tested technique for alleviating symptoms caused by a pleural effusion.


Surgical Consultation for Pleurocentesis

A Pleurocentesis or thoracentesis mainly requires a surgical consultation. In most cases, it is done by minimal invasion techniques.

Now, before it is done, patient is asked to meet with the doctor so as to know the entire procedure.

Before undergoing any of such procedure, a surgeon will look into the medical reports of the concerned patients and will check if he or she qualifies.

Afterwards, he may ask to undergo various tests like biopsy and imaging scans to further determine if he or she is eligible to undergo the procedure.

Consultations are something that give patients all the knowledge that they require regarding the procedure. Here patients are free to ask questions. They cn even bring up any of their concerns as well.

At the same time, patients would also know some more details comprising the success with the above procedure. In addition to this, surgeon will also guide patients what they need to do to fulfill all the criteria for surgery.


What to Expect During a Pleurocentesis (Thoracentesis) Procedure

In order to undergo Pleurocentesis procedure, doctors expect patients to undergo a seated position throughout the procedure. They may lie down if it is necessary. Before they start, doctors will sterilize the area and give local anesthesia to numb the area.

Afterwards, doctors insert a hollow and long needle (also called canula) between the ribs which is guided by CT scan images or ultrasound. Although, the patient starts feeling a bit pressure, it doesn't feel pain.

Finally, doctor will drain out the extra fluid called pleural effusion. It will all depend on the goal of the Pleurocentesis.

The extracted fluid is usually send to a lab for testing which is also called pleural cytology. After doctor removes the needle and dresses the wound, a chest X-ray is ordered to ensure that there is no sign of a collapsed lung.


Risks and Complications of Pleurocentesis

Although, complications in Pleurocentesis are rare, they can still be there. The most common and serious complication can be the complication of a collapsed lung, also known as pneumothorax.

This can only happen if the doctor punctures the lung by mistake. It can also happen if the doctor disrupts an accumulation of air in the pleural cavity.

There can be some other complication while undergoing Pleurocentesis procedure:

  • Tumor seeding
  • Laceration to lung, liver or spleen
  • Diaphragm injury
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Bleeding

There are complications that are more common in such types of surgeries called Pleurocentesis. Patients who have a history of such type of surgeries in the past may face more complications.

Also, such patients can be at a greater risk. In the same way, patients having any other condition that affects the normal blood flow are also at a higher risk of such complications.

Also Read: Armstrong World Industries History of Asbestos



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