How Is Pleural Effusion Drained?


Quick Answer

Doctors drain pleural effusion by drawing out the fluid through a needle, a procedure known as thoracentesis, or by installing tubes for drainage, a procedure known as a tube thoracostomy, explains Cleveland Clinic. Medications such as diuretics may be used to remove pleural effusion if it is due to causes such as heart failure. In a few cases, such as ones in which pleural effusion is caused by cancer, doctors deliberately cause scar tissue to form to stop fluid accumulation.

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Full Answer

Pleural effusion is the accumulation of fluid in the membranes surrounding the lungs, known as the pleura, says Cleveland Clinic. They lubricate the lungs and facilitate breathing. A small amount of fluid between the pleura is normal, but an excess of fluid can cause problems. Symptoms of pleural effusion include a dry cough, an inability to breathe properly unless upright, general shortness of breath or chest pain. In some cases, pleural effusion causes no symptoms.

There are two types of pleural effusion that depend on the type of fluid in the pleura, explains Cleveland Clinic. Protein-rich fluid results in exudative pleural diffusion, while watery fluid results in transudative pleural effusion. The most common causes of exudative pleural diffusion include cancer, kidney disease, pneumonia and pulmonary embolism. The most common causes of transudative pleural effusion include cirrhosis and the after-effects of open heart surgery.

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