A Pleural Effusion is characterized as an abnormal build up of fluid around the lungs and is often the result of other medical conditions such as Pneumonia, Congestive Heart Failure and Cancer. While many are not serious, some require treatment to avoid further complications. Often, the treatment includes treating the underlying condition.
Treatment aims to:
Therapeutic thoracentesis may be done if the fluid collection is large and causing chest pressure, shortness of breath or other breathing problems such as low oxygen levels. Removing the fluid allows the lung to expand thus making breathing easier.
Treating the cause of the effusion then becomes the goal. For example, pleural effusions caused by congestive heart failure are treated with diuretics (water pills) and other medications that treat heart failure. Pleural effusions caused by infection are treated with appropriate antibiotics. In people with cancer or infections, the effusion is often treated by using a chest tube for several days to drain the fluid. Sometimes, small tubes can be left in the pleural cavity for a long time to drain the fluid.
Your surgeon may also recommend a “talc pleurodesis” procedure. This is a surgical procedure which coats the surface of the lung with a sterile medicinal powder in an attempt to seal areas that are leaking fluid into the space around the lungs, creating effusions. After a pleurodesis tube is left in the chest to prevent fluid buildup while the procedure takes effect.
While the patient’s recovery is largely dependent based upon the specific procedure or treatment they have undergone, it is not uncommon for a hospital stay of a few days. Prolonged hospital stays may be required in certain situations; however, other situations may involve little to no hospital stay.