Slideshows Images Quizzes

Copyright © 2018 by RxList Inc. RxList does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

Definition of Pleural effusion

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Pleural effusion: Excess fluid between the two membranes that cover the lungs (the visceral and parietal pleurae) separating the lungs from the chest wall. A small quantity of fluid is normally spread thinly over the visceral and parietal pleurae and acts as a lubricant between the two membranes. Any significant increase in the quantity of pleural fluid is a pleural effusion. The most common symptoms of pleural effusion are chest pain and painful breathing (pleurisy). Many pleural effusions cause no symptoms but are discovered during physical examination or detected on chest X-rays; X-ray is the most convenient way to confirm the diagnosis. Pleural effusion can be caused by heart and kidney failure, hypoalbuminemia (low levels of albumin in the blood), infections, pulmonary embolism, and malignancies.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors