Objective: To determine the safety of ultrasound-guided thoracentesis (UST) performed by critical care physicians on patients receiving mechanical ventilation.
Design: Prospective and observational.
Setting: ICUs in a teaching hospital.
Patients: Two hundred eleven serial patients receiving mechanical ventilation with pleural effusion requiring diagnostic or therapeutic thoracentesis.
Interventions: Two hundred thirty-two separate USTs were performed by critical care physicians without radiology support. Anteroposterior chest radiographs were reviewed for possible postprocedure pneumothorax.
Results: Pneumothorax occurred in 3 of 232 USTs (1.3%). The procedure was well tolerated in this critically ill population.
Conclusions: UST performed in patients receiving mechanical ventilation without radiology support results in an acceptable rate of pneumothorax.