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Thoracentesis for Mesothelioma

Thoracentesis is a palliative treatment often performed to assuage pain and symptoms that are associated with pleural mesothelioma. The procedure developed in the mid-nineteenth century has become a popular and widely recommended treatment today. Often, pleural mesothelioma patients complaint about an internal chest pressure, which is caused by the fluid accrual between the chest lining and visceral pleura (lining of the lungs). This build up of fluid is called Pleural Effusion. Medically it is also termed as pleural fluid aspiration or pleurocentesis.

In Thoracentesis, a syringe or catheter is introduced from the back in between the chest wall and the lungs to remove the accumulated fluid. It is a minor procedure and comparatively painless. It is also conducted for diagnostic purposes. The removed fluid is evaluated if there is no confirmation of the diagnosis. Doctors generally conduct tests like ultrasound, CT scan, blood tests, chest X-ray to judge the spread of the problem. If you are on medications or have breathing difficulty, do share it with your doctor before undergoing the procedure. It takes around 10 to 15 minutes to complete the entire process.

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How Does Thoracentesis Help People with Mesothelioma?

First and foremost, thoracentesis is a palliative or analgesic therapy that addresses the symptoms, pain, and discomfort caused by pleural mesothelioma. It is not a curative procedure. The fluid buildup causes breathing problems, chest pain, and pressure on the lungs. Removing the fluid reduces the pressure and gives it more space to expand and breathe with ease. Therefore, relieves pain.

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Expected Cost of Thoracentesis

The majority of the pleural effusion cases are managed medically which costs around $750 per event. Rest of the pleural effusion cases requires invasive therapy. Those who are admitted to the hospital for this procedure can end up spending ten thousand for the tube procedure, while for catheter it would be more. However, for outdoor patients, it happens to be approximate $700 to $1200 dollars for ultrasound assisted thoracentesis. Depending on the severity of the problems, procedure, recurrence of the pleural effusion, the cost is likely to differ. You must calculate all the other expenses like traveling, consultation, tests while calculating the cost of the therapy. Don’t forget to share it with your doctor. If it is beyond your budget try to negotiate, talk to your insurance company. There are several government programs and charitable organizations to help you.

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Side Effects Of Thoracentesis

In thoracentesis, people rarely have any complications. However, some of the common risks are the surgeon accidentally puncturing the lungs, spleen, liver or injuring the diaphragm. There are chances of Hemothorax when the air accumulation inside the pleural cavity is disturbed. It could be risky if the cancerous cells spread along the thoracentesis needle insertion site. There could also be a negligible amount of bleeding, pain cough, dry tap, infection subcutaneous seroma, subcutaneous hematoma, vasovagal syncope and respiratory stain. However generally, the doctors conduct several tests to make sure there is no organ enlargement of other problems. In ultrasound-assisted thoracentesis, the doctor knows where the needle is going and thus can avoid any amount of complications. In a study conducted on 446 patients (many of them were suffering from malignant mesothelioma) found fewer events of a collapsed lung when assisted by ultrasound. The bottom line is that this therapy is basically safe.

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Show Sources


  • https://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/thoracentesis.pdf
  • http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=thoracentesis
  • https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003420.htm
  • https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/thor
Last Modified: Apr 14, 2017 @ 12:05 am

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