Is pleural effusion serious?
Unless treated, pleural effusion can cause serious, and even life-threatening breathing problems.
Author: Idan Ben-Barak
First answered: 15 Jul 2015
Last reviewed: 17 Oct 2018
Rating: 4.2/5 Votes: 1270
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Pleural effusion occurs when there is a build-up of excess fluid in the pleural space around the lungs.
Signs and symptoms of pleural effusion include coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath and rapid breathing. Additional signs and symptoms can appear depending on the type and cause of the effusion.
Pleural effusion can be caused by one of many disorders including heart failure, cancers, infections, pulmonary embolism (a blood clot blocking a lung artery), liver failure, pleurisy, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and pancreatitis.
Pleural effusion is diagnosed from: the various symptoms and a medical history; a physical examination of the chest, and; imaging tests (chest X-rays, chest ultrasound, or computerized tomography (CT) scan). When aspirating the pleural effusion, a sample …
To treat pleural effusion, a doctor can insert a tube into your pleural space and remove the excess fluid. This is known as thoracentesis, or 'tapping', and be done periodically if fluid keeps building up. In some cases, draining tubes may be left in the …
Treatment for pleural effusion is effective, but the condition may recur until the underlying cause is successfully treated.