Pleural Effusion (Fluid In the Chest or On the Lung)

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Steven Doerr, MD
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

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What are the complications of pleural effusion?

The potential complications associated with pleural effusion are:

  • lung scarring,
  • pneumothorax (collapse of the lung) as a complication of thoracentesis,
  • empyema (a collection of pus within the pleural space), and
  • sepsis (blood infection) sometimes leading to death.

Can pleural effusion be prevented?

The development of pleural effusions may sometimes be prevented by the early treatment of the underlying causes listed above. However, in certain cases, the development of pleural effusions may not be preventable. Some pleural effusions may be prevented from reoccurring by having individuals undergo pleurodesis, a procedure that seals up the pleural space.

Medically reviewed by James E Gerace, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Pulmonary Disease

REFERENCE: Medscape.com. Pleural Effusion.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/6/2015

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