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Placement of a thoracentesis needle

Lungs in chest showing fluid in right pleural space, and view of person's back showing site between two ribs for fluid removal.

In thoracentesis, the doctor removes fluid from the space between the lungs and the chest wall (the pleural space). The doctor inserts a needle (and sometimes a plastic catheter) between two ribs and through the chest wall to remove and examine the fluid.

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
David C. Stuesse MD - Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery