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Lung diseases

Why a lung tap?

02/26/2009

Question:

My 72 yr old mother underwent double bypass heart surgery a week ago. Though she seems to be doing fairly well, she is scheduled for a lung tap in the morning. Why would it be necessary and what is the purpose? Is this common after heart surgery?

Answer:

The main reason to perform a lung tap or thoracentesis is to remove fluid that has accumulated inside the chest but outside of the lung.  There are many reasons why fluid can accumulate including infections, cancers, heart failure or after surgery.  This collection of fluid is very common after open heart surgery.  Draining this fluid can help the patient with their breathing and helps determine why the patient developed fluid in the first place.

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Response by:

Nitin Y Bhatt, MD Nitin Y Bhatt, MD
Clinical Assisstant Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University