Home Chest Investigations Chest Aspiration Aspiration of Pleural Fluid
Aspiration of Pleural Fluid PDF Print E-mail
Written by Leong Oon Keong   
Thursday, 02 July 2009 02:56

     Chest aspiration is performed to investigate the cause of pleural fluid or to relieve breathlessness caused by a large amount of accumulated fluid.

     The procedure can be performed in the clinic or by the bedside.   The patient is usually sitted in an upright position with arms supported by a pillow over an adjustable table.  The doctor then marks the site for aspiration after reviewing the chest x-rays and perforiming a chest examination.  Sometime radiologic or ultrasonic guidance is needed for smaller or suspected loculated effusions.  The patient condition is monitored throughout the procedure.

     The site is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and infiltrated with a local anaesthetic.  A needle is then passed into the pleural space and the fluid aspirated. 

     Samples of the pleural fuid are sent for investigations which usually include cytology for malignant cells, bacteriology for TB and other germs, biochemistry and sometimes fungal culture.

Relative Contraindications to Pleural Chest Aspiration

  • Very small volume of fluid
  • Bleeding diathesis
  • Anticoaulant therapy (aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin)
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Skin disease at the site


  • Pain during and after procedure at puncture site
  • Pneumothorax (complicates 10 - 30 % of pleural aspirations but chest drain treatment is required in less than 5% of cases)
  • Bleeding (maybe cutaneous or internal)
  • Empyema
  • Accidental liver or spleen puncture




Last Updated on Sunday, 03 October 2010 12:47