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What's the treatment for pleural effusion?

Treatment of pleural effusion may be directed at removing the fluid, preventing its re-accumulation, or addressing the underlying cause of the fluid buildup. A pleural effusion can be treated by removing the fluid using a needle inserted through

the chest wall in a procedure called a thoracentesis. The fluid may be sent to a lab to determine what may be causing the fluid to accumulate. Congestive heart failure can be treated with medications. Infections can be treated with antibiotics. Inflammation can be treated with medications to reduce inflammation. In all of these cases, the effusion will often go away after treatment. For cancer and trauma, the fluid often must be drained. A tube is inserted through the skin and into the chest cavity for this procedure. Surgery and chemotherapy may also be needed to treat the underlying cause of the pleural effusion in these cases. Therapeutic thoracentesis may be done if the fluid collection is large and causing pressure or shortness of breath. Treatment of the underlying cause of the effusion then becomes the goal. For example, pleural effusions caused by congestive heart failure are treated with diuretics and other medications that treat heart failure. Pleural effusions caused by infection are treated with antibiotics specific to the causative organism. In patients with cancer or infections, using a chest tube to drain the fluid often treats the effusion. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or instilling medication within the chest that prevents re-accumulation of fluid after drainage may be used in some cases. Because pleural effusion is a secondary effect of many different conditions, the key to preventing it is to promptly diagnose the primary disease and provide effective treatment. Timely treatment of infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia will prevent many effusions. When effusion occurs as a drug side-effect, withdrawing the drug or using a different one may solve the problem. On rare occasions, an effusion occurs because fluid meant for a vein is mistakenly injected into the pleural space. This can be prevented by making sure that proper technique is used.

More information on pleural effusion

What is pleural effusion? - A pleural effusion is the buildup of fluid between the outer lining of the lungs (visceral lining) and the inner lining of the chest cavity.
What causes pleural effusion? - Transudative pleural effusions are usually caused by a disorder in the normal pressure in the lung. The cause and type of pleural effusion is determined by thoracentesis.
What're the symptoms of pleural effusion? - The most common symptoms of pleural effusion are shortness of breath and chest pain.
How is pleural effusion diagnosed? - Diagnosis of pleural effusion is ccomplished with a simple chest x-ray, further radiographic tests may be needed to confirm the presence of pleural fluid.
What's the treatment for pleural effusion? - Treatment of pleural effusion may be directed at removing the fluid, preventing its re-accumulation, or addressing the underlying cause of the fluid buildup.
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