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Thoracentesis: Understanding the Purpose and Procedure

Legally Reviewed by Joseph P. Williams on November 7, 2023

Thoracentesis is a medical procedure used to drain fluid or air from the pleural space surrounding the lungs. While it can provide significant relief to patients suffering from mesothelioma, it is not without risks. Understanding the purpose, details, and risk factors of thoracentesis can help you make an informed decision about your health. A seasoned attorney can help connect you with the best healthcare services so you can access the care you need. 

At The Williams Law Firm, P.C., our principal attorney, Joe Williams, has 30 years of experience providing top-notch legal services to his clients. He has never lost a case and has a proven track record of helping his clients successfully navigate complex liability issues regarding asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Our team treats every case as our cause and will fight aggressively for justice on your behalf. 

What to Expect During a Thoracentesis Procedure

When someone is diagnosed with mesothelioma, it can cause fluid to build up between the layers of tissue covering the lungs. This can lead to breathing difficulties, coughing, and discomfort. Thoracentesis is a minimally invasive procedure, removing fluid accumulation from the pleural cavity using a hollow needle. This surgery is also sometimes called pleurocentesis. 

A thoracentesis typically takes 15 minutes and is performed in a hospital. Throughout the operation, your physician may instruct you to hold your breath or not move. In order to guarantee your comfort throughout the thoracentesis, they will use a local anesthetic to numb your back. Following the thoracentesis, your doctor may take an X-ray or ultrasound of your lungs. They will then continue to monitor your vitals until you are cleared to return home After the thoracentesis, you may cough for up to an hour. This is typical and facilitates the expansion of your lungs.

Risk Factors for Thoracentesis

While thoracentesis can be an effective way to provide relief to mesothelioma patients, it involves several risks, including the following:

  • Bleeding 
  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Diaphragm injury
  • Laceration of the lung, spleen, or liver
  • Tumor seeding

It is up to your doctor to determine if you are a suitable candidate for thoracentesis, and studies have shown there is a lower risk for complications when the doctor uses an ultrasound to perform the procedure. 

Alternatives to Thoracentesis

Thoracentesis has become a less common mesothelioma treatment compared to other methods, including the following:

  • Pleurodesis: This procedure drains the cavity and fills the gaps to prevent future buildup. 
  • Pleural catheter: A pleural catheter drains the cavity slowly over time, preventing the need for several thoracic surgeries
  • Tumor/tissue removal: If your cancer is still in the early stages, your doctor may opt for a more aggressive surgery to remove the diseased tissue entirely. 

An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can connect you with best-in-class medical professionals who can devise a treatment plan that meets your unique needs. If your mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure, we can also help you recover damages for your medical costs and other losses. When you retain our services, you can trust us to support you through every stage of your treatment and legal journey. 

Partner With a Skilled Mesothelioma Attorney at The Williams Law Firm, P.C.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and are considering treatment options, contact an experienced attorney at The Williams Law Firm, P.C. Our team understands how challenging a mesothelioma diagnosis can be and will tailor our approach to your case so your unique needs can be addressed. Our founding partner, Joe Williams, can meet you in your home to begin your case and will work with you through every step of the complex legal process. He is committed to helping you recover compensation for the full extent of your losses. 

Schedule a free consultation with an experienced attorney today by calling (855) 575-6376 or completing our online contact form.

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