Thoracentesis Treatment
in Fredericksburg, VA

Using imaging guidance, fluid collections can be aspirated or drained for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes. VIVA’s drainage services include Abscess Drainage, Nephrostomy Tube Placement, Paracentesis, and Thoracentesis.

You are a candidate for thoracentesis if you need fluid removed from around your lungs, and our Board Certified, Fellowship Trained Interventional Radiologists can help.

What is Thoracentesis?

Thoracentesis, also known as pleural tap, is a quick, minimally invasive procedure to remove fluid from the pleural cavity—the space between the lungs and the inside of the chest wall. You may need fluid drained for testing or to relieve pain or pressure in your chest or shortness of breath. At Virginia Interventional and Vascular Associates (VIVA), we offer minimally invasive procedures for treatment and symptomatic relief.

Pleural fluid can accumulate as a result of many conditions, like:

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

Viral, fungal, or bacterial infections


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease

Inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)

High blood pressure in lung blood vessels (pulmonary hypertension)

An area of pus in the pleural space (empyema)

A blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism)

Liver failure

Tuberculosis (TB)


Reactions to medicines

Diagnostic and Therapeutic Thoracentesis

There are two reasons to remove fluid from the pleural cavity—to analyze the fluid and/or to remove the fluid from the pleural space to improve symptoms.

Diagnostic thoracentesis is performed to evaluate the fluid to determine what is causing excess fluid to build up. Following the procedure, a fluid sampling is sent to the laboratory for analysis.

Therapeutic paracentesis is performed to remove all excess fluid in the pleural space for the purpose of relieving pain and pressure on the lungs as well as shortness of breath.

What can I except during my procedure?

The procedure is performed while you’re seated in an upright position and there is no pain or sedation. First, the area where the needle will enter is cleaned. Before inserting the needle, a local anesthetic is administered. Once the numbing agent has taken effect, an injection will be made through a small puncture site between the ribs of your back. Fluid is then drained through the placement of a catheter.

The procedure will last about 15 minutes, depending on how much fluid is drained.

What can I except after my procedure?

After your thoracentesis, your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. An x-ray of your chest may be done following the procedure. You’ll leave your appointment on the same day with only a small bandage on the punctured site. It’s important to keep the area dry and covered to prevent infection. You may need to avoid strenuous physical activity for one to two days after the procedure.

To schedule your thoracentesis procedure at VIVA, call our office at (540) 654-9118.

Using imaging guidance, fluid collections can be aspirated or drained for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes. VIVA’s drainage services include:

  • Abscess Drainage
  • Nephrostomy tube placement
  • Paracentesis
  • Thoracentesis