Safety of ultrasound-guided thoracentesis in patients receiving mechanical ventilation

Chest. 2004 Mar;125(3):1059-62. doi: 10.1378/chest.125.3.1059.


Objective: To determine the safety of ultrasound-guided thoracentesis (UST) performed by critical care physicians on patients receiving mechanical ventilation.

Design: Prospective and observational.

Setting: ICUs in a teaching hospital.

Patients: Two hundred eleven serial patients receiving mechanical ventilation with pleural effusion requiring diagnostic or therapeutic thoracentesis.

Interventions: Two hundred thirty-two separate USTs were performed by critical care physicians without radiology support. Anteroposterior chest radiographs were reviewed for possible postprocedure pneumothorax.

Results: Pneumothorax occurred in 3 of 232 USTs (1.3%). The procedure was well tolerated in this critically ill population.

Conclusions: UST performed in patients receiving mechanical ventilation without radiology support results in an acceptable rate of pneumothorax.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Paracentesis / adverse effects
  • Paracentesis / methods*
  • Pleural Effusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Pleural Effusion / therapy*
  • Pneumothorax / etiology
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional*