You may have your procedure as an outpatient. This means you go home the same day. Or it may be done as part of a longer stay in the hospital. You may be asked to remove your clothes. If so, you will be given a hospital gown to wear. You may be asked to remove jewelry or other objects. You may be given oxygen through a nasal tube or face mask. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing will be watched during the procedure. You will be in a sitting position in a hospital bed. Your arms will be resting on an over-bed table. This position helps to spread out the spaces between the ribs, where the needle is inserted.
If you are not able to sit, you may lie on your side on the edge of the bed. The skin where the needle will be put in will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. A numbing medicine (local anesthetic) will be injected in the area. When the area is numb, the doctor will put a needle between the ribs in your back. You may feel some pressure where the needle goes in. Fluid will slowly be withdrawn into the needle. You will be asked to hold still, breathe out deeply, or hold your breath at certain times during the procedure. If there is a large amount of fluid, tubing may be attached to the needle. This will let the fluid drain more. The fluid will drain into a bottle or bag. In some cases, a flexible tube (catheter) will be put in place of the needle and the tubing will be attached for a day or two. You will stay in the hospital until the catheter is removed. When enough fluid has been removed, the needle will be taken out. A bandage or dressing will be put on the area. Fluid samples may be sent to a lab. You may have a chest X-ray taken right after the procedure. This is to make sure your lungs are OK.