What is the role of needle thoracentesis in the workup of non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)?

Updated: Jun 05, 2020
  • Author: Winston W Tan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Nagla Abdel Karim, MD, PhD  more...
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Answer

Needle thoracentesis is both diagnostic and therapeutic in patients presenting with respiratory distress. Thoracentesis has a sensitivity of only 80% with a specificity greater than 90%. In patients suspected of having lung cancer who have an accessible pleural effusion, if the pleural fluid cytology finding is negative (after at least 2 thoracenteses), thoracoscopy is recommended as the next step to aid in diagnosis.


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