Thoracentesis Discharge Information

What is a thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis is a procedure where a needle is put into the space between your rib cage and one of your lungs, called the pleural space, to drain fluid. The pleural space normally contains a small amount of fluid. Thoracentesis may be needed to test the fluid for infection or cancer cells. It may also be needed when excess fluid is putting pressure on the lung and making it hard to breathe. This excess fluid is called a pleural effusion.

How can I take care of myself when I go home?

How long it takes to get better depends on the reason you needed a thoracentesis, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.

Management

  • Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
    • Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
    • Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
    • Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
  • Your provider may prescribe medicine to:
    • Treat pain
    • Treat or prevent an infection
    • Reduce fluid build-up and swelling in the body
    • Help relax your airways
    • Reduce swelling in the airways
  • If you still have a dressing when you leave the hospital, to care for it:
    • Keep your wound clean and dressing dry.
    • If you are told to change your dressing, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.

Appointments

  • Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
  • Keep appointments for all routine testing you may need.
  • Talk with your provider about any questions or fears you have.

Diet, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes

  • Follow the treatment plan your healthcare provider prescribes.
  • Get plenty of rest while you’re recovering. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine light yellow in color, unless you are told to limit fluids.
  • Exercise as your provider recommends.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if there are any foods or medicines you should avoid.
  • Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines or muscle relaxants.

Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:

  • Chest pain that does not get better with medicine
  • Coughing up blood
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble speaking or understanding

Do not drive yourself if you have any of these symptoms.

Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:

  • Chills or sweats
  • Cough
  • Signs of infection around your wound. These include:
    • The area around your wound is more red or painful
    • Your wound area is very warm to touch
    • You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
    • You have a fever higher than 101.5° F (38.6° C)
    • You have chills or muscle aches
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2013-12-11
Last reviewed: 2014-04-24
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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