Pleural effusion

Pleural effusion is an accumulation of fluid in the pleural cavity.

There are two types: transudative and exudative. Transudative effusion means an accumulation of water or extracellular fluid, while exudative effusion may be composed of blood, pus or fluid related to digestion.

Pleural effusion is a common disease that occurs in cases of inflammation of bacterial, neoplastic (a complication of cancer), or systemic (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus erythematosus) origin. Other causes include heart failure, pancreatitis, cirrhosis, kidney failure or liver failure.  

Treatment of effusion depends on its cause. Determining the composition of the fluid is essential for diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, the first step  is to perform an aspiration to collect and analyze the fluid. If this does not suffice, the surgeon will perform a thoracoscopy to view the effusion area. He or she will perform a biopsy and remove larger quantities of fluid for analysis. Treatment of the effusion is sometimes carried out by pleurodesis. Treatment of effusions due to cancer or kidney, heart or liver diseases targets the original conditions.

For more information on surgical treatment and hospitalization, please visit the website of the Lung Surgery Unit.

Last update : 15/08/2019