[Is the routine chest radiography following thoracentesis necessary?]

J C Molina Hinojosa, T Auguet Quintillá, M Olona Cabases, X Aguilar Bargalló, S Veloso Esteban, C Richart Jurado
Revista Clínica Española 2003, 203 (3): 125-8

OBJECTIVES: To assess the routine indication of chest roentgenogram after thoracentesis in function of iatrogenic pneumothorax causation, following a procedure protocol.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Prospective study of 104 consecutive thoracentesis procedures performed in 76 patients. The procedure was protocolized and after each thoracentesis a chest roentgenogram was obtained within 6 hours after the procedure. The attending physician completed a questionnaire relative to patients data characteristics of the pleural effusion.

RESULTS: Two pneumothorax were noted following thoracentesis (2%) which did not require pleural drainage. These pneumothorax occurred in patients with parapneumonic pleural effusions.

CONCLUSIONS: The routine practice of chest roentgenogram after thoracentesis does not seem to be warranted and should be individualized. The performance of thoracentesis by physicians in training period, with procedure protocolization, minimizes the risk of pneumothorax.

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