The pleura are two thin, moist membranes around the lungs. They let your lungs expand and contract. The inner layer is attached to the lungs. The outer layer is attached to the ribs. Pleural effusion is a buildup of extra fluid in the space between the pleura. This can make it hard for the lungs to open all the way. This can make it hard to breathe.
Some types of pleural effusion do not cause symptoms. Others may cause:
Shortness of breath
Rapid heartbeat or breathing
Coughing up blood
Fever or chills
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This may include listening to or tapping on your chest. Lung function tests will test how well you can move air in and out of your lungs.
Some blood tests will be done based on what the doctor thinks it causing the fluid.
Pictures may be taken to view your lungs. This can be done with:
—a needle is used to withdraw excess fluid.
Tube thoracostomy—a tube is placed in the side of your chest to let fluid drain. It will be left in place for several days.
Seal the Pleural Layers
The doctor may advise chemical pleurodesis. Talc powder or an irritating chemical is injected into the pleural space. This will seal the two layers of the pleura together. This may help prevent further fluid buildup.
Radiation therapy may also be used to seal the pleura.
In severe cases, surgery may be done. Some of the pleura will be removed during surgery. Options are:
Pleural effusion. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary-disorders/mediastinal-and-pleural-disorders/pleural-effusion. Updated October 2017. Accessed August 28, 2018.
Pleural effusion. Remedy's Health Communities website. Available at: http://www.healthcommunities.com/pleural-effusion/overview-of-pleural-effusion.shtml. Updated October 1, 2015. Accessed August 28, 2018.
12/10/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T474331/Pleural-effusion: Roberts M, Neville E, Berrisford R, Atunes G, Ali N, et al. Management of a malignant pleural effusion: British Thoracic Society pleural disease guideline 2010. Thorax. 2010;65 Suppl 2:ii32.
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