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A PleurX drainage catheter (flexible tube) can be placed in your chest to drain the fluid from your pleural space. This can make it easier for you to breathe.



Normally, the pleural space has some fluid in it. This fluid helps your lungs move smoothly when you breathe.

Sometimes, too much fluid can build up in your pleural space. This makes it hard for your lungs to expand all the way and can make you feel short of breath. Fluid may build up around either one or both lungs.


Your nurse will place an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm. You will be brought into the procedure room. You will receive medication through your IV to make you feel drowsy.

If you have fluid around only one lung, the catheter will be placed on that side of your chest. If you have fluid around both lungs, your doctor will choose the best side for the catheter. Before the catheter is inserted, the area will be numbed with an anesthetic.

During your procedure, your doctor will make two small incisions, one into your pleural space and another one a few inches away. They will make a tunnel under your skin between the two openings. The catheter will be passed through this tunnel.

The catheter has many holes to allow the fluid to drain. It also has a one-way valve that allows the fluid to come out but doesn’t allow air to go in.

After your catheter is inserted, your doctor will cap it. In rare cases, your doctor will attach it to a collection unit to allow for further drainage of the fluid.

You will have a dressing over the catheter. You may have another bandage over the second incision made when the catheter was placed.




Tell your nurse if you have:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Increasing pain or discomfort

  • Any symptoms that concern you


Your nurse will teach you how to care for the catheter. Use this information at home to remind you of what you learned. At first, a visiting nurse will come to your home to help you care for the catheter. It won’t be long before you feel confident doing it yourself.

To care for your PleurX drainage catheter, you will:

  • Inspect your catheter every day.

  • Drain the fluid from your pleural space (chest) every day, or as directed by your doctor.

  • Change your dressing once a week, or whenever it becomes loose, wet, or soiled. If a wet dressing is left against your skin, it may cause your skin to become irritated and sore.


Don’t use any sharp objects around your catheter.

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