What is Pleural Effusion?

What is Pleural Effusion
What is Pleural Effusion

What is Pleural Effusion?

What is Pleural Effusion? Pleural Effusion is a condition characterized by fluid accumulation between two pleural layers (the membrane separating the lungs with the inner chest wall).

Actually this pleural produced fluid serves as a lubricant that helps smooth the movement of the lungs when breathing. However, when the fluid is excessive and accumulate, it can cause certain symptoms, such as chest pain when pulling and exhaling, coughing, fever, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of Pleural Effusion are usually felt if these conditions have entered the middle or severe level. If the buildup of fluid is still relatively mild, usually the patient will not feel any symptoms.

Causes of Pleural Effusion

Pleural Effusion often occur as a complication of some other types of illness, such as:

  • Lung cancer
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary embolus
  • Lupus disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Pleural Effusion can also occur due to fluid seepage coming out of the blood vessels. This seepage can be triggered by low levels of protein in the blood (in cases of kidney disease and cirrhosis) and back pressure in the blood vessels (in the case of heart failure).

Diagnosis of Pleural Effusion

The diagnosis of  Pleural Effusion usually begins with a simple physical examination using a stethoscope or tapping on the chest after previously collecting information from the patient about the perceived symptoms and history of the illness.

If the doctor suspects the patient is exposed to Pleural Effusion, further examination in more detail can be done through a number of scanning procedures, such as X-ray, ultrasound, and CT scan on the chest. If a pleural effusion is detected, thoracentesis may be performed to check the fluid type. The action is to take a liquid sample through a needle inserted into the pleural cavity.

Pleural Effusion Treatment

Because Pleural Effusion arise as a complication of other diseases, the treatment should be done by curing the underlying condition. This means that if the cause has been overcome, then the hope of Pleural Effusion disease to subside by itself. Examples that can be taken here are cancer treatment with radiotherapy and chemotherapy or treatment of pneumonia with antibiotics.

Treatment of these basic conditions is not always successful. If the causes of Pleural Effusion are so severe and difficult to cure, the physician is forced to use a number of procedures to remove the accumulated fluid, including:

  • Thoracentesis procedure for removing large volume of pleural fluid.
  • Installation of a special plastic tube into the pleural cavity through thoracotomy surgery.
  • Long-term catheter insertion through the skin into the pleural space.
  • Injecting irritant triggers (eg doxycycline) into the pleural space through a special tube to bind the chest wall and the pleura. This procedure, called pleurodesis, is usually applied to prevent the frequent relapse of the pleural effusion.

In addition to procedures aimed at draining and preventing the accumulated pleural fluid, a procedure for removing unhealthy or inflamed tissues can also be done if the damage impact of pleural effusion has reached that stage. This tissue removal and inflammation of the inflammation can be performed through thoracoscopic surgery (thoracic surgery) or thoracotomy (major surgery).

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