Pleural Effusion (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- What is pleural effusion?
- What causes pleural effusion?
- What are the risk factors for pleural effusion?
- What are the symptoms and signs of pleural effusion?
- When should I seek medical care for pleural effusion?
- How is pleural effusion diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for pleural effusion?
- What are the complications of pleural effusion?
- Can pleural effusion be prevented?
- What is the prognosis for pleural effusion?
- Pleural Effusion At A Glance
- Find a local Pulmonologist in your town
What is the treatment for pleural effusion?
Since a pleural effusion may compromise breathing, the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, and Circulation) of resuscitation are often the first consideration to make certain that there is enough oxygen available for the body to function.
The treatment of a pleural effusion usually requires that the underlying illness or disease is treated and controlled to prevent accumulation of the pleural fluid.
While thoracentesis is used as a diagnostic procedure, it can also be therapeutic in removing fluid and allowing the lung to expand and function. Tube thoracostomy, also known as a chest tube, may be placed to drain and treat empyemas (pus collections).
What are the complications of pleural effusion?
Pleural effusions compromise lung function by preventing its full expansion for breathing. If the effusion is longstanding, there can be associated lung scarring and permanent decrease in lung function. Fluid that remains for a prolonged period of time is also at risk for becoming infected and forming an abscess called an empyema.
Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures including thoracentesis involve placing needles through the chest wall into the pleural space. Pneumothorax is a potential complication.
Some pleural effusions reoccur multiple times; sclerosing agents that induce scarring such as talc or tetracycline may be used to prevent recurrence. If sclerosing agents fail, surgery may be required.
Can pleural effusion be prevented?
Pleural effusions are caused by a variety of conditions and illnesses. Preventing the underlying cause will decrease the potential of developing an effusion.
Viewers share their comments
- Submit »
- Submit »
Find out what women really need.