A patient who recently underwent a thoracentesis is being assessed by the nurse. Which of the following assessment findings is most concerning to the nurse?

Diminished breath sounds on the affected side


•A thoracentesis is the insertion of a needle in the pleural space at the 8-10th intercostal space on the midaxillary line. This procedure removes the accumulation of fluid in the pleural space, such as an effusion, and can be therapeutic and diagnostic.

•After a thoracentesis, the nurse should be alert for signs of a pneumothorax. This includes diminished breath sounds, retractions, dyspnea, increased respiratory rate, and cyanosis.

•The recently performed thoracentesis greatly increases the risk for a pneumothorax.  While a respiratory rate of 25 or an expiratory wheeze is not a normal finding, diminished breath sounds on the affected side would be more indicative of a pneumothorax and would take priority.

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