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What is empyema?

Empyema is the presence of gross pus in the pleural cavity; it consists of an effusion containing polymorphonuclear

leukocytes and fibrin. Empyema is caused by an infection that spreads from the lung and leads to an accumulation of pus in the pleural space. The infected fluid can build up to a quantity of a pint or more, which puts pressure on the lungs, causing shortness of breath and pain. Risk factors include recent pulmonary (lung) conditions including bacterial pneumonia, lung abscess, thoracic surgery, trauma or injury to the chest, or rarely, thoracentesis (a needle inserted through the chest wall to draw off fluid in the pleural space). The pleural space is actually a potential space created by the visceral and parietal pleura. It normally contains a scant amount of fluid which facilitates movement of the lung with the diaphragm and chest wall. Several mechanisms contribute to the development of an effusion. Pleural fluid can accumulate when alterations in hydrostatic and oncotic pressure accompany cardiac, renal, hepatic or metabolic disease, or when there are changes in pleural fluid permeability secondary to inflammation, infection, toxin, malignancy or trauma.

More information on empyema

What is empyema? - Empyema is the presence of gross pus in the pleural cavity; it consists of an effusion containing polymorphonuclear leukocytes and fibrin.
What causes empyema? - Empyema is caused by an infection that often spreads from the lungs following pneumonia. A subdural empyema may result from a sinus infection, a severe ear infection.
What're the symptoms of empyema? - The signs and symptoms of empyema vary somewhat according to the location of the infection and its severity.
How is empyema diagnosed? - The diagnosis of empyema is usually confirmed by analyzing a sample of fluid taken from the pleural cavity.
What's the treatment for empyema? - The goal of treatment for empyema is to cure the infection and remove the collection of pus from the lung.
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