Mesothelioma patients experience many uncomfortable symptoms associated with their disease. One of the most debilitating symptoms of pleural mesothelioma is the build-up of fluid in the pleura space around the lungs. This collection of fluid makes it very difficult to breathe and also can cause severe pain. It greatly impacts the quality of life for the patient and can make it difficult to do every day tasks. Although there is no known cure for mesothelioma cancer, this type of treatment can relieve uncomfortable symptoms.
The best way to relieve this discomfort is to have the fluid removed by means of a pleurocentesis. Also known as a thoracentesis, this type of mesothelioma surgery can be performed as many times as necessary and is done in an outpatient setting, in most cases.
What to Expect
Before this procedure is performed, the patient will probably undergo a CT scan or some other sort of imaging test so that the mesothelioma doctor can determine the amount of fluid present. After that, an appointment will be scheduled for the procedure.
During the pleurocentesis, the patient sits up and generally leans on a table. The doctor cleans and numbs the area where a long, thin needle will be inserted to draw out the fluid, generally between the ribs. Little pain is felt during the procedure though the patient may experience a feeling of pressure. Once an ample amount of the fluid is removed, the needle is withdrawn and the area is covered with a bandage. The procedure generally takes less than 30 minutes total, depending on the amount of fluid to be removed. However, the patient may remain longer for monitoring purposes.
Once sent home, the patient will be instructed to rest for at least 24 hours in order to avoid complications, which could include bleeding or infection. In very rare cases, pneumothorax - the collapse of the affected lung - could occur.
Author: Linda Molinari
Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer AllianceRead about Linda
Reviewer: Annette Charlevois
Patient Support CoordinatorRead about Annette
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Mayo Clinic.