Thoracentesis FAQ's

Thoracentesis Definition:

Thoracentesis is officially defined as “A technique which is used for removal of fluid from space present between lungs outer boundary and chest wall.” This space is also known as pleural cavity. It is performed for diagnostic or therapeutic treatment purpose. It is performed by using a needle which is inserted in space between ribs. Basically this technique is used to eject excessive pleural fluid from pleural space which may accumulate due to many pathological conditions. This procedure is used to take sample of pleural fluid sent to laboratory for further testing but in therapeutic treatment, all excessive pleural fluid is ejected.

Thoracentesis or Thoracocentesis:

Thoracentesis or thoracocentesis is a procedure which is specially designed to eject excessive pleural fluid. This fluid is present in pleural space i.e. between lungs and outer boundary of lungs. In this procedure a fine needle or a two way plastic catheter is injected in pleural space from back side right through chest wall. A vacuum container is attached to needle or catheter which sucks and collects pleural fluid. After Thoracentesis, needle is removed and a bandage is applied on puncture site. Pleural fluid sample is passed on to lab for further testing.

Thoracentesis Procedure Pain:

Thoracentesis procedure involves needle insertion in chest wall from back side. So before starting thoracentesis, a fine needle is selected which may pass easily to pleural cavity also the skin surface is cleaned with an antiseptic solution. After antiseptic application, a proper antiseptic boundary is formed and after that a local anesthesia is applied on skin to numb it. This numbness cause just a little pain to patient while needle puncturing. Pain is totally bearable and persists for about 2 days after thoracentesis. After 2 to 3 days, this pain completely vanished and patient is free to perform routine activities.

Thoracentesis Site Of Insertion:

Thoracentesis involves needle insertion for sample collection or pleural fluid collection, so selection of area where needle will be inserted, is really important. Normally the site selected lies between 7th and 9th rib interspace. This area is safe because neurovascular bundle is present near inferior side of lungs, and needle will not puncture that bundle. Another advantage of this site is: there will be less chances of liver and diaphragm and spleen damage. Descending aorta will not get damage due to needle puncturing at this site. It is the safest site used till now for Thoracentesis.

Thoracentesis Procedure Note:

Thoracentesis procedure note contains data about procedure. 1st of all date of procedure is mentioned in a standard format. Then diagnosis is written which is observed before thoracentesis. Below this, observed diagnosis is mentioned which is on the base of thoracentesis sample test result. After that thoracentesis procedure is explained briefly. In this heading, a top to bottom procedure steps are discussed for patient information. All this is written on a paper like a note. This note is presented to patient to guide him about the whole procedure. Name of surgeon is also mentioned in this procedure note.

Thoracentesis Icd 09 Code:

ICD 9 is a diagnosis code and defined as a billable medical code which is used to show a diagnosis on a reimbursement claim. A specific code i.e. E879.4 should be used only to claim in a specific date range i.e. before or on September 30, 2015. Likewise claims on date October 1, 2015 or after this date will be equivalent to code ICD 10. These codes are assigned to specific dates for claims. This code describes accumulation of fluid again because of abnormal reaction of patient or any other later complication.

Thoracentesis V/S Thoracostomy:

Thoracostomy is different from Thoracentesis, as an incision is made in thoracostomy and after incision, needle or a tube commonly called as chest tube is inserted inside but a needle is directly inserted in Thoracentesis. Thoracostomy is a procedure which is specially used for treating pneumothorax. Thoracentesis is used for removing excessive pleural fluid from pleural space. Thoracostomy is performed to clear air, blood or fluid from pleural space, but Thoracentesis is specific for excessive pleural fluid. For releasing air in pneumothorax, needle thoracostomy is performed. Thoracentesis is contraindicated in many conditions but thoracostomy have only some contraindications.

Thoracentesis Needles:

The process of thoracentesis involves needle insertion to the pleural space. Pleural space is present between lungs and chest wall. A fine needle is used for this process which easily passes to the pleural space without resistance. A fine long needle will cause less pain while puncturing. Needle used should be long enough that it easily pass chest wall and reaches to pleural space. Excessive pleural fluid is ejected from pleural space with the help of this needle. Along with this needle, a vacuum container is attached which sucks and collect pleural fluid. After thoracentesis, needle is removed and bandage is applied.


Thoracentesis ICD 10 code is used for care performed after surgery. This code is not used for reimbursement purpose. It have some sub codes with much detail. These codes help in searching body parts requiring aftercare and explain in detail the aftercare procedure. The condition of patient which is treated also be coded if that condition still persist. It has two main types. Type 1 excludes the injury code related to 7th character D aftercare. It also exclude aftercare of neoplasm surgery. Type 2 of this code exclude aftercare of organ transplant surgery and orthopedic surgery as well.
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