Thoracentesis Recovery Time

Thoracentesis is a process in which excessive pleural fluid is ejected from pleural space with the help of needle. Pleural space is present between lungs and chest wall. Sometimes this procedure is also known as “chest tap”.  Normally a small amount of pleural fluid is present in pleural space which provides cushioning to lungs. When it turns into excessive accumulation of fluid, Thoracentesis is recommended to eject excessive pleural fluid. There may be many reasons behind this, like lung cancer, heart failure and infection. Patient may feel pain during needle insertion but this pain may completely eliminates within two days. Patient can easily walk and perform other activities of life right after two days of thoracentesis. After this procedure, instruction sheet is handed over to patient for better care. Every person face a different recovery time. But following instructions are provided to them in the form of care sheet for rapid recovery.

  • Physician advises patient to take rest for longer time if he feels tired.
  • Patient have to avoid strenuous activities like exercise, aerobics, yoga, cycling, running, weight lifting, riding and jogging etc. until doctor allows him to do these activities. 
  • Patient have to avoid taking shower until doctor allows him or puncture site get completely healed. 
  • Patient should not drive without doctor’s permission.
  • Doctors strictly recommend to take rest for 2 days and then patient can go back to work. 
  • Normal diet is suggested with less oily food.
  • Patient should drink plenty of fluids until doctor recommend him to stop. 
  • If patient was already on medications, then doctor will tell him when to take those medicines again. 
  • If patient was already on some blood thinning agents like warfarin (Coumadin), aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix) then he must discuss it with doctor. Then doctor will tell the patient whether to take medicines or not and when to restart them after thoracentesis. Mostly patients restart blood thinning agents after complete recovery of puncture site to avoid excessive bleeding. 
  • Doctor will prescribe pain killers to patient and also instruct about dosage. 
  • If patient was already on pain killers, then he should ask physician when to restart them. 
  • Doctor strictly advise patient to not take more than 2 pain killers at a same time. Common pain killers involve acetaminophen i.e. Tylenol. But acetaminophen i.e. Tylenol in excess can be harmful. 
  • If doctor has prescribed some antibiotics then patient have to take them as directed. Patient have to complete antibiotic course and does not stop it after feeling better. 
  • Patient should also take great care of his puncture site. He should wash his puncture site regularly with mild soap and Luke warm water. Avoid using hydrogen peroxide and alcohol because these two agents interfere in healing time and extend it. If it weeps out or rub with clothes, then patient should cover it with a gauze bandage and change it on daily basis. 
  • Patient have to keep puncture site clean, free of infection and dry.
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