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Thoracentesis is a common procedure to aid in the diagnosis and management of a pleural effusion. The technique has been used for many years but there have been significant advances in the equipment used to aid this procedure such as the widespread availability of bedside thoracic ultrasound and the introduction of bespoke drainage kits. Thoracentesis is often one of the first investigations performed to ascertain the etiology of an effusion and can give prompt symptomatic relief to patients suffering from related dyspnoea. This chapter discusses some of the indications for thoracentesis and a few of the relative contraindications. Details of the necessary equipment and preparation are provided, followed by a comprehensive description of how to perform the procedure. Lastly, information on possible complications, including their prevalence and management strategies are discussed, providing a comprehensive of this common procedure.

Original publication





Book title

Encyclopedia of Respiratory Medicine, Second Edition

Publication Date





528 - 535