Complications following ultrasound-guided thoracocentesis

Acta Radiol. 2004 Aug;45(5):519-22. doi: 10.1080/02841850410005804.


Purpose: To retrospectively register the number and type of complications following ultrasound-guided thoracocentesis, and to evaluate the need for routine chest X-ray after the procedure.

Material and methods: Complications were retrospectively registered from the radiological and clinical reports of 371 consecutive patients who had undergone thoracocentesis with a total of 711 procedures.

Results: The mean volume evacuated was 823ml (range 0-3600ml). Twenty (2.8%) pneumothoraces were found after 711 thoracocenteses, but in no case was chest tube drainage necessary. Hemoptysis occurred in one patient.

Conclusion: Ultrasound-guided thoracocentesis was found to be a safe procedure. Based on these results, no reason was found to introduce an upper limit of the amount of fluid drained in one session. Routine follow-up chest X-ray is not justified in the absence of clinical symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hemoptysis / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paracentesis / adverse effects
  • Paracentesis / methods*
  • Pneumothorax / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thoracic Cavity / surgery*
  • Ultrasonography