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Anyone have their lung tapped?


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I posted last week about my mom's shortness of breath. She had her CT scan, which wasn't too bad, but they did notice fluid in her lung. They are sending her to a lung specialist today to see what they have to say and possibly tap her lung. We think the fluid comes and goes on it's own, because after a few days she was breathing normally again. But today (humidity is back) she is a little short of breath. Not as bad.

Anyway, has anyone had this done? What can we expect? Will she have to stay over night in the hospital?


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Hi Bam,

My husband had his lung tapped, and it was not that difficult of a process. He had a lot of SOB, which did seem to change, but apparantly that was as the fluid moved to different places in the lining of the lung that didn't constrict the airways as much.

What they did was have him go into the area of the hopital that did ultasounds and scans. They give him local anestetics and used and ultrasound machine to watch and guide a rather large and scary looking needle directly to the fluid pockets. Then they used that needle to pump out lots and lots of fluid. I can't remember right now how many liters, but it sounded like a lot.

The whole process took about 2 hours, but he was not put under any general anestetic, I think if he had wanted one they would have given him a valium for his nerves but he said he didn't need one. They wanted him to be awake so he could respond to them with how he was feeling and his breathing capabilities. He was up and walking around after the procedure and feeling a bit better almost immediately. It took pressure off his lungs and increased his lung capacity.

I would not expect a hospital stay unless there are other issues with your mom's condition that would interfer with the process.

Sending you prayers for a successful procedure and for relief for your mom.

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My husband has had that procedure twice - one time training 1200 cc's and another 1700 cc's. The procedure was very simple - he felt no pain during or afterwards. He sat on the edge of the bed in the hospital with his feet dangling down, they numbed the back, inserted the catheter and drained the fluid. The whole procedure took about 15 minutes. He was released to go home very shortly afterwards and had no problems. Both times he's had this done, he felt much much better afterwards as the fluid actually collapses the lung which decreases his capacity. He is scheduled to see a surgeon in August to see about a procedure to stop the fluid from coming back.

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Carleen covered it well. (Hi Carleen!! :D:D )

The patient sits and leans over onto a table in front of them so the lung doctor can run the ultrasound over the back.

The fluid is called pleural effusion and it is not in the lung itself, but in the area between the lung and the pleural lining. We go tomorrow to see if Tony needs another thoracentesis (tap). He's had 14 since diagnosis and they are a breeze. We often go out to eat following the tap. There is always a slight chance of bleeding or lung collapse. Tony is off all anti-inflammatories for 3 days before the thoracentesis to help avoid any bleeding issues. Following the tap, they will take an x-ray to make sure everything is okay with the lung.

Although Tony has had a lot of fluid drained at times, he doesn't always get "instant" gratification. He's weird, but sometimes it takes hours or up to a day for him to feel better about his breathing.

Good luck to your Mom. If she gets tapped, I hope it goes well and she feels better!

Is she treated in the city itself or in the suburbs?


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Thanks for all of your responses. She is being treated in the burbs (Downers Grove). We met with the lung speacialist today. Its funny we go from her onc, who is so impersonable to the specialist who is almost too perky. The confusion is that mom's shortness of breath comes and goes. So the big question, or questions is 1) is the fluid coming and going on it's own? and 2) is it do the humidity? We did schedule a tap for next Tue. They sent her for another CT scan to make sure there were not any blood clots and there weren't. Now we wait for Tuesday. I'm hoping she's breathing better again on Tuesday, that way we can tell if the fluid is what's causing the problems. Another frustrating thing is the doctors hours. My mom is still working full time (or trying). She took two months off after her second round of radiation, but went back about four weeks ago. But these doctors only have morning times. Very frustrating. She needs to work! It really gives her purpose.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing your expereiences. It really does help!

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"bam451" ...they did notice fluid in her lung...possibly tap her lung...

Hi! Just to make sure everyone is on the same page, the procedure which was explained in excellent detail by Carleen, karlalong, and Welthy is a thoracentesis or "pleural tap," which removes fluid (pleural effusion) from the space between the lung and the chest wall (pleural space). The needle does not go INTO the lung. Pleural effusion is a very common condition, and thoracentesis a very common procedure, for people with lung cancer.

On the other hand, there is also a procedure known as lung aspiration or "lung tap" which removes fluid from INSIDE the lung for analysis. Two common causes of fluid IN the lung are pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Lung aspiration or lung tap is a century-old procedure which at one time was a standard diagnostic tool in cases of childhood pneumonia. It is used less frequently today.

To add to the potential for confusion, some doctors refer to a thoracentesis or pleural tap as a "lung tap." :roll:

The thoracentesis I had last August did help with my shortness of breath, but just to a degree. What appeared to be a continuous body of fluid on the CT scan was partly "loculated" fluid trapped in small sacs separated by fibrous tissue. I believe some of this was cleared out later during my thoracotomy.

Best wishes for next Tuesday! Aloha,


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Sorry to confuse others as much as myself.

Bam - I do use both thoracentesis and tap to mean the same thing. It's not correct, but after so many, it is easier to say. :wink: Also, thank you for mentioning the clot issue. Is your Mom coughing a lot?? Just curious because Tony's breathing is horrific and he's coughing like crazy this last week. We don't know what is happening either and we're on a wing and a prayer with the ultrasound and thoracentesis tomorrow. Maybe I'll bring up blood clots to the lung doc.

(Karlalong -- you covered it well too, we were posting at the same time and I didn't see yours! :D )

I guess it never crossed my mind about actually tapping gunk from inside the lung. You are right, but that's one procedure that we've never had the pleasure. :shock: Thanks Ned!


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