OSF Medical Group

Thyroid Removal (Thoracentesis)

When a needle is used to puncture through the chest wall and pleural space to remove fluid for diagnostic purposes, to treat a pleural effusion, or to collect a specimen for biopsy, it is called a thoracentesis. It is performed using local anesthesia and with the patient in an upright position.


Our staff will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you might have prior to surgery. You may receive a physical examination, including blood and urine tests, to ensure you are in good health for the procedure.

Please make sure to bring a complete list of all medications and herbal supplements you are currently taking with you to your appointment.

Please let our staff know if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Pregnant or suspect you are pregnant
  • Allergic to medications, latex, tape, or anesthetics
  • History of bleeding disorders or are taking a blood thinner, aspirin, or other medications that affect blood clotting

What to Expect

Thoracentesis can be done in your doctor's office, the radiology department, emergency department, or at your bedside in the hospital. You will be asked to remove any jewelry or objects that interfere with the procedure as well as your clothing; you will be given a surgical gown to wear.

During the procedure, the patient will be seated and asked to lean forward (usually over a bedside table). To locate the excess fluid in the chest, X-ray or an ultrasound may be used.  

The insertion site will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Your doctor will give you a local anesthetic. The physician will insert the needle in the spot where the fluid has collected once the area is numb.

As the needle enters, you may feel some mild pain or pressure. The fluid or air will be withdrawn using a syringe or a small tube attached to a vacuum bottle. If fluid is present, it will be collected and sent to the lab for testing.

Once the procedure is completed, a bandage is put in place.

An X-ray may be taken right after the procedure to make sure no complications have occurred. This procedure takes about 10 to 15 minutes.


You may be taken to the recovery room for observation if your procedure was done in a procedure room or in the radiology department. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you may be taken to a hospital room or discharged.

Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.

Follow Up

Arrangements for a follow-up appointment with our staff will be made upon discharge.