Pleural Effusion (cont.)

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What is the prognosis for pleural effusion?

Since a pleural effusion is a symptom of another disease, the prognosis depends upon the underlying illness. Pleural effusions are never normal. While they may be associated with treatable illnesses, their presence suggests that the underlying disease has advanced enough to cause significant inflammation of the lining of the lung.

Pleural Effusion At A Glance

  • Pleural effusions describe fluid between the two layer of tissue (pleura) that cover the lung and the lining of the chest wall.

  • A pleural effusion is due to the manifestations of another illness.

  • In general, pleural effusions can be divided into transudates (caused by fluid leaking from blood vessels) and exudates (where fluid leaks from inflammation of the pleura and lung).

  • The most common causes of pleural effusion are congestive heart failure, pneumonia, malignancies and pulmonary embolism.

  • Thoracentesis is used to draw off the pleural fluid for analysis. A thin needle is inserted between the ribs into the fluid collection.

  • Treatment of the pleural effusion depends upon the underlying illness.

References:

eMedicine.com. Pleural Effusion.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/299959-overview>

eMedicine.com. Pleural Effusion: Differential Diagnoses & Workup.
<http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/807375-diagnosis>


Last Editorial Review: 4/2/2010


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