What Are the Treatments for a Pleural Effusion?

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A pleural effusion refers to an unusual amount of fluid accumulates in the pleural cavity. It may impair people’s breathing by limiting the expansion of the lungs.

According to different causes, a pleural effusion can be treated by medication or operation.

If the pleural effusion is caused by pneumonia, you may get some antibiotics. If the cause is congestive heart failure, you may take some diuretics. Besides, some anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain medicines are used to relieve inflammation and pain. However, if the pleural effusion is large, infected, or inflamed, the fluid needs to be drained out through operation. Normally, the procedures include:
  • Thoracentesis. Your doctor may take more fluid than the need of test to ease your symptoms.
  • Tube thoracostomy (chest tube). Your doctor may make a small cut in your chest wall and put a plastic tube into your pleural space. And the plastic tube will stay for several days.
  • Pleural drain. Your doctor may put a long-term catheter through your skin into the pleural space to help you drain the pleural effusion at home if your pleural effusions keep coming back.
  • Pleurodesis. Your doctor may inject an irritating substance through a chest tube into the pleural space to inflames the pleura and chest wall. Then the two parts will bind tightly to each other as they heal.
  • Pleural decortication. Your doctor may make a small or large cut to remove potentially dangerous inflammation and unhealthy tissue.
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What is the treatment for pericardial effusion?
It depends on its severity and cause. Small ones that don’t have symptoms and are due to known causes require no special treatment.
For pericardial effusions due to inflammation of the sac, treating the inflammation also treats the effusion.
In that case, you may be given:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Aleve, Indocin, and Motrin
Corticosteroids, like prednisone and Solu-Medrol
Colchicine (Colcrys)
If a severe infection or heart impairment (cardiac tamponade) exists, the extra fluid must be drained immediately:
Pericardiectomy or pericardial window
Pericardial effusions that are 3 months old or older are called chronic. Often, no cause is known. They’re monitored without treatment. If there are symptoms or your heart is being harmed, drainage is usually done.