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Pleural Aspiration - Procedure, Benefits, & Risks

At Yashoda hospital, our specialists offer unmatched respiratory and pulmonary services, from diagnosis through treatment. We’re one of the few hospitals in the area using two advanced technologies – endobronchial ultrasound (EBUS), pleural aspiration, and bronchoscopy cryotherapy – for earlier detection of lung disease and lung cancer.

With access to the advanced and latest diagnostic equipment available, our specially trained team can diagnose some of the most complex pulmonary disorders.

What is a Pleural Aspiration?

A pleural aspiration is a procedure where the surgeon inserts a small needle or tube into the space between the lung and chest wall to extricate fluid that has accumulated around the lung. This space between the lung and chest wall is called the pleural space.

During pleural aspiration, the doctor usually tries to determine why there is fluid around the lung (diagnostic procedure) or to improve symptoms (therapeutic procedure). Coughs, shortness of breath, or chest pain are the symptoms of fluid around the lung.

What is the Procedure for a Pleural Aspiration?

The doctor will perform pleural aspiration while you are sitting upright on the side of a bed and leaning forward. Local anaesthesia will be applied to the skin of your chest. The doctor will make a small cut on the skin, and a needle or thin plastic tube will be inserted into the space between your lung and chest wall to remove the fluid. To find the largest area of fluid located, the doctor will use an ultrasound to see the inside of your chest on a screen.

The area is usually at the back of your chest or to the side, and hence, the doctor stands behind you while doing the procedure. The doctor may ask you to hold the breath while carrying out the procedure. A tube is left attached to the place where the fluid is being removed. Thereafter, the small opening in the skin is covered with a dressing.

The doctor may ask you to undergo a chest X-ray in 2-4 hours after the procedure to check for any complications.

What are the Benefits of a Pleural Aspiration?

Pleural Aspiration is usually conducted to remove a sample of the fluid so that it could be sent to a pathologist to determine why it has accumulated.

A pleural aspiration will remove the fluid, and hence, this can make you feel more comfortable, as the fluid around your lung may be causing symptoms including cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

What are the Risks of a Pleural Aspiration?

After the procedure, you could have serious complications such as pneumothorax- major bleeding from a large artery or vein in the chest, or fluid accumulation in the lung. You will have to stay at the hospital after the procedure for continuous monitoring. If, after you are released, you see the following symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

  • A lot of bleeding from the small cut in your skin.
  • Increasing shortness of breath.
  • New or worsening pain whilst breathing deeply.
  • A cough that produces blood.
  • Infection at the site

The total time taken for the pleural aspiration varies depending on how much fluid needs to be removed. This procedure may take an hour to several hours. You may also have to stay in the hospital for monitoring. An X-ray will also be performed to check for pneumothorax.


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