When is thoracentesis indicated in the evaluation of pleural effusion (fluid on the lungs)?

Updated: Dec 28, 2018
  • Author: Kamran Boka, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Thoracentesis should be performed for new and unexplained pleural effusions when sufficient fluid is present to allow a safe procedure. Observation of pleural effusion is reasonable when benign etiologies are likely, as in the setting of overt congestive heart failure, viral pleurisy, or recent thoracic or abdominal surgery.

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