Thoracentesis is a medical procedure in which a needle or a small tube is inserted through the chest wall and into the pleural space in order to remove excess fluid or air. The procedure is typically performed to diagnose or treat a variety of conditions, including pleural effusions, pneumothorax, and empyema.
The procedure is performed with the patient in a seated or semi-recumbent position, with the affected side of the chest facing up. The procedure site is typically cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then numbed with a local anesthetic. A needle or small tube (catheter) is then inserted through the chest wall and into the pleural space. The fluid or air is then removed using a syringe or a suction device.
Thoracentesis is necessary when fluid or air accumulates in the pleural space, which is the space between the lung and the chest wall. This accumulation of fluid or air can cause difficulty breathing, chest pain, and other symptoms. The procedure is used to diagnose the underlying cause of the fluid or air accumulation and to relieve symptoms.
The benefits of thoracentesis include the ability to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the fluid or air accumulation, as well as the relief of symptoms such as difficulty breathing and chest pain. The procedure is also relatively safe and can be performed as an outpatient procedure.
The risks of thoracentesis include bleeding, infection, pneumothorax (a collapsed lung), and pain at the procedure site. These risks are generally low, and the procedure is considered safe when performed by a qualified healthcare professional.
In terms of billing, thoracentesis procedure is typically billed using CPT code 32554 for thoracentesis, needle or catheter, diagnostic or therapeutic, including imaging guidance, when performed; or CPT code 32555 for thoracentesis, needle or catheter, diagnostic or therapeutic, including imaging guidance, when performed, requiring hospitalization.