Jefferson University Hospitals


If you are suspected of having lung cancer or other lung diseases, Jefferson physicians may perform a thoracentesis in which fluid removed from the sac surrounding the lungs is examined for cancer cells. In the case of suspected lung cancer, our specialists within the Thoracic Oncology Program will use this procedure coupled with renowned expertise to determine the nature and extent of detected cancer, in order to develop a personalized treatment plan.

What Does Thoracentesis Involve?

  • The staff will position you for this procedure that will typically require 15 to 30 minutes. Be sure to inform the staff if you are taking blood thinning medications such as coumadin, aspirin, etc; you should be free from these drugs for at least five to seven days.
  • The doctor will inject a small amount of local anesthetic under the skin to numb the area. You may feel a slight stinging when the medication is injected.
  • The doctor will place a small, thin needle into your chest to remove the fluid.
  • As the lung re-expands toward the end of the procedure, you may experience mild tightness in the chest or coughing. Your vital signs will be measured and monitored during the procedure.
  • Your doctor may recommend that you have a chest X-ray after the thoracentesis procedure. If so, you will need to wait at the Hospital until after the chest X-ray is reviewed. This X-ray will show any possible lung collapse that may have resulted from the procedure (pneumothorax).

Thoracentesis is done to:

  • Relieve shortness of breath from fluid build-up around the lung
  • Testing is performed on the fluid build-up around the lung

Why Choose Jefferson for Lung Cancer Treatment in Philadelphia?

Our Thoracic Oncology Program is one of only a few programs in the U.S. providing such an advanced level of treatment and research for lung cancer. The Program brings together Jefferson specialists with renowned expertise in treating lung cancer to address every aspect of your care.

Through a collaborative approach, you will be continually evaluated from diagnosis through your entire course of treatment by a team of specialists that, depending on your needs, may include surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, gastroenterologists, pulmonologists, complementary medicine specialists and support program facilitators.