Treatment for Pleural Effusion

Patients with fluid accumulation around one or both lungs often experience a dry cough and difficulty breathing.  There are many reasons for pleural effusions to develop, and typically the first step is to determine the cause.  This is most easily accomplished through a procedure called thoracentesis

Interventional radiologists can use ultrasound guidance to place a small, thin drainage tube called a catheter between two ribs in a patient’s back; allowing the removal of the fluid present around the lung.  The catheter is then removed, and a bandaid placed over the small nick in the skin.   The fluid can then be sent for testing, and also the patient can be assessed to see if removal of the fluid helped with their difficulty breathing.  Thoracentesis is a temporary therapy for the removal of pleural fluid and does not keep the fluid from returning.

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