An empyema is a pocket of pus outside the surface of the lung and the tissue that surrounds it. The fluid may build up in this space called the pleural space, and put pressure on the lungs. The pressure can make it difficult to breath and cause pain.
The risk of empyema may also increase in people who have a weakened immune system, such as with
HIV infection, steroid use, and cancer treatment. Risk also increases with damage to lung tissue, which can occur with:
Empyema. NHS Choices website. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/empyema/Pages/Introduction.aspx. Updated February 11, 2016. Accessed June 14, 2016.
Parapneumonic effusion and empyema in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T435308/Parapneumonic-effusion-and-empyema-in-adults. Updated November 2, 2016. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Pleural effusion and empyema. Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital website. Available at: http://www.wehealny.org/services/Thoracic_Surgery/effusionAndEmpyema.html. Accessed September 1, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
James Cornell, MD
Last Last updated: 11/18/2016
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