Hemorrhagic complications of thoracentesis and small-bore chest tube placement in patients taking clopidogrel

Kamran Mahmood*, Scott L. Shofer, Barry K. Moser, A. Christine Argento, Emily C. Smathers, Momen M. Wahidi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Rationale: Clopidogrel is a commonly used antiplatelet medication. The risk of local hemorrhage associated with use of this drug during routine thoracentesis or small-bore chest tube placement is not well established. Objectives: We conducted a prospective cohort study to assess the risk of hemothorax in patients taking clopidogrel while undergoing either pleural procedure. Methods: Twenty-five consecutive adult patients who were taking clopidogrel at the time they were offered thoracentesis or small-bore (14 Fr) chest tube placement consented to continue taking the drug through their procedure. A control group consisted of 50 patients undergoing these pleural procedures who were not taking clopidogrel at the time they consented to undergo either procedure. All of the pleural procedures were performed under ultrasound guidance by an interventional pulmonologist or a fellow under direct faculty supervision. Hospitalized patients were screened for hemothorax by observing for a post-procedure drop in blood hemoglobin content of 2 g/dl or reaccumulation of their pleural effusion within 24 hours of the procedure. Outpatients were called within 2 weeks after their procedure to determine whether they had any symptoms suggestive of hemothorax. Measurements and Main Results: There was one case of hemothorax after thoracentesis in the clopidogrel group versus none in the control group. The one patient with hemothorax required transfusion with 2 units of packed red blood cells and small-bore chest tube placement, and clopidogrel was withheld. There were no other clinically apparent complications of either procedure. Conclusions: Considered in combination with other small previously published studies, this single-center, nonrandomized, controlled prospective cohort study suggests that the rate of clinically consequential hemorrhage after ultrasound-guided thoracentesis or chest tube placement in patients taking clopidogrel is sufficiently low to warrant a large, randomized clinical trial designed to determine the safety of performing these procedures without interrupting clopidogrel therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 7 2014


  • Chest tube
  • Clopidogrel
  • Hemothorax
  • Small-bore chest tube
  • Thoracentesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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