Steven M. Brown, MD
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Brown SM. Routine Chest Radiography after Thoracentesis. Ann Intern Med. 1997;126:491. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-126-6-199703150-00014
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1997;126(6):491.
TO THE EDITOR:
Doyle and colleagues  raise important points in their report on the necessity of chest radiography after thoracentesis. However, I think that this report may be misleading. Chest radiography is done after thoracentesis for reasons other than determining whether a pneumothorax has occurred.
I often obtain a chest radiograph after evacuation of a large pleural effusion, particularly if I believe that I have removed most of the fluid. The evacuation of fluid may reveal a lung mass that had been masked by the effusion. Removal of pleural fluid can occasionally lead to a condition in which the lung does not completely expand to occupy the chest cavity, particularly in the setting of obstructive lung lesions. The post-thoracentesis chest radiograph has been helpful in showing this phenomenon. A post-thoracentesis chest radiograph helps establish a baseline with which subsequent chest radiographs can be compared to help evaluate the speed with which pleural fluid is reaccumulating.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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