15211 Vanowen St. Suite 205
Van Nuys, CA 91405
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What is Pleural Effusion?
Pleural Effusion, known as the “water on the lungs”, is the accumulation of fluid in the pleural space between the two linings that covers the surface of the lungs and the one that lines the chest wall. Normally, about 5 to 10 ml of fluid is present in the cavity that acts as a lubricant for lung expansion during breathing activity, when the fluid accumulates more than the safe level, this is known as the Pleural Effusion.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Shortness of breath (Dyspnea) is the most common symptom of a pleural effusion.
  • Chest Pain; pleuritic pain, sharp and worsens with breathing or cough. It may radiate to the shoulder, neck, or abdomen.
  • Rapid Breathing (Tachypnea)
  • Night sweats
  • Hiccups
  • Fever, chills, cough producing rusty sputum and pleuritic pain signifies pneumonia.

How is Pleural Effusion diagnosed?

Diagnosis begins with taking the patient’s medical history. Examination includes inspection of the respiratory system, palpation, percussion (tapping) and auscultation (listening with a stethoscope). If Pleural effusion is suspected, the condition can be confirmed with Chest X-ray, CT scan, Ultrasound, Thoracentesis and Pleural Fluid Analysis.

What are the two major classification of Pleural Effusion?

  • Transudative Pleural Effusion (fluid leaks from blood vessels into the pleural space)
  • Exudative Pleural Effusion (caused by inflammation of the pleura due to disease of the lung.)
    This classification is not absolute, but it aids in evaluation and possible diagnosis.

What are the causes?
Most common causes of transudative pleural effusion are:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Liver failure; Cirrhosis
  • Kidney failure; nephrotic syndrome
  • Pulmonary embolism

Most common causes of exudative pleural effusion are:

  • Cancers
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Connective tissue diseases (rheumatic heart disease, arthritis)
  • Asbestos and mesothelioma

What is thoracentesis and how is it performed?
Thoracentesis is the removal of pleural fluid from the pleural cavity with a needle and syringe. A local anesthetic is applied and then the doctor inserts the needle into the pleural cavity and the sample is removed. While Thoracentesis is used as a diagnostic procedure, it can also be therapeutic if the effusion is causing significant shortness of breath. This treatment can remove large amounts of fluid, effectively treating many pleural effusions.

Is pleural effusion infectious?

It is not infectious by itself but the cause of the pleural effusion may be (i.e. pneumonia)

Can pleural effusion be prevented?
Preventing and treating the underlying cause on time will lessen the likelihood of developing a pleural effusion.

Is Pleural effusion fatal?

Pleural effusions may be easily treatable however it can be fatal as well. This can lead to breathing trouble as well as numbness or temporary paralysis on the affected side of the body.

Can this condition recur even after complete pleural effusion treatment?

Yes. If the illness that caused the effusion persists and is uncontrollable, pleural effusion can recur.



California Pleural Effusion
15211 Vanowen St. Suite 205
Van Nuys, CA 91405

tel: (818) 908-9752
email: info@treatpleuraleffusion.com


Identifying the cause of the effusion is important because the treatment will be targeted towards this cause. The doctor will find a treatment that will work best on the patient based on what type of effusion and symptoms the patient have.
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