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How is pleurisy diagnosed?

Pleurisy is diagnosed by history and physical exam. Pleurisy is often easy for doctors to diagnose because pleuritic pain is so distinctive. A stethoscope is also used to listen for abnormal chest sounds as the patient breathes. The doctor examines the chest in the area of pain and can often hear the friction that is generated by the rubbing of the two inflamed layers of

pleura with each breath. With large amounts of pleural fluid accumulation, there can be decreased breath sounds and the chest is dull sounding when the doctor drums on it (dullness upon percussion).

Chest x-rays are often used to uncover causes of pleurisy. Blood tests are also used to diagnose pleurisy in some people. Possible causes, such as pneumonia, fractured ribs, esophagus rupture, and lung tumors may be detected on an x ray. Computed tomography scan (CT scan) and ultrasound scans are more powerful diagnostic tools used to visualize the chest cavity. Images from these techniques more clearly pinpoint the location of excess fluid or other suspected problems. The most helpful information in diagnosing the cause of pleurisy is a fluid analysis. In this technique, a fine needle is inserted into the chest to reach the pleural space and extract fluid. The fluid's appearance and composition is thoroughly examined to help doctors understand how the fluid was produced. In certain instances, such as dry pleurisy, or when a fluid analysis is not informative, a biopsy of the pleura may be needed for microscopic analysis.

 

More information on pleurisy

What is pleurisy? - Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the lining of the lungs, with subsequent pain. Pleurisy is frequently associated with a pleural effusion.
What causes pleurisy? - There are many causes of pleurisy. Pleurisy may develop in the presence of lung inflammation, rheumatic diseases, chest trauma.
What're the symptoms of pleurisy? - The most common symptom of pleurisy is chest pain (pleuritic pain), which worsens with breathing in or coughing.
How is pleurisy diagnosed? - Pleurisy is diagnosed by history and physical exam. Pleurisy is often easy for doctors to diagnose because pleuritic pain is so distinctive.
What's the treatment for pleurisy? - Treatment of pleurisy is directed at the underlying illness. Bacterial infections are treated with appropriate antibiotics.
How to prevent pleurisy? - Pleurisy can be prevented, depending on its cause. In some cases, pleurisy can be prevented by preventing the medical condition that causes it.
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