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What procedures do doctors use to treat a pleural effusion?

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Large, infected, or inflamed pleural effusions often need to be drained to help you feel better and to prevent more problems. Procedures for treating pleural effusions include:

  • Thoracentesis: If the effusion is large, your doctor may take more fluid than she needs for testing, just to ease your symptoms.
  • Tube thoracostomy (chest tube): The doctor makes a small cut in your chest wall, and inserts a plastic tube into your pleural space for several days.
  • Pleural drain: For pleural effusions that keep coming back, you may get a long-term catheter inserted through your skin into the pleural space. You can drain the pleural effusion at home. Your doctor will tell you how and when to do that.
  • Pleurodesis: Your doctor injects an irritating substance (such as talc or doxycycline) through a chest tube into the pleural space. The substance inflames the pleura and chest wall, which then bind tightly to each other as they heal. Pleurodesis can often prevent pleural effusions from coming back.
  • Pleural decortication: Surgeons can operate inside the pleural space, removing potentially dangerous inflammation and unhealthy tissue. To do this, your surgeon may make small cuts (thoracoscopy) or a large one (thoracotomy).

From: What Is a Pleural Effusion? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

Mason, R. , 5th edition, Saunders, 2010. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine

Lab Tests Online, “Pleural Fluid Analysis.”

National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “What Is Pulmonary Embolism?”

Mayo Clinic: “Heart failure.”

Reviewed by Louise Chang on January 6, 2019

SOURCES:

Mason, R. , 5th edition, Saunders, 2010. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine

Lab Tests Online, “Pleural Fluid Analysis.”

National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: “What Is Pulmonary Embolism?”

Mayo Clinic: “Heart failure.”

Reviewed by Louise Chang on January 6, 2019

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