What are the Effective Pleural Effusion Treatment Options

Difficulty breathing accompanied by noisy or crackling breath sounds often indicate the development of pleural effusion. This is a respiratory condition that can be both urgent or not depending on the case of the patient. The presence of pleural effusion compromises lung function because it literally compresses the lungs, making breathing difficult.

  • Pleural effusion is defined as a condition wherein excess fluid accumulates in the pleura or the fluid-filled space surrounding the lungs.
  • Treatment of patients with pleural effusion depends on the case such as stable but requiring hospitalization, stable but not requiring hospitalization, and unstable.
  • Goal of treatment is to reduce compression of the lungs and for patient to attain normal respiration.

Pleural Effusion Treatment Options

  • There are a lot of treatment options that patients can choose from when dealing with pleural effusion.
  • The type of treatment ordered may also depend on the doctor upon examination of the patient’s case.
  • Some of the options include:
    • Thoracentesis – diagnostic and therapeutic
    • Tube thoracostomy – the insertion of a tube attached to a water-sealed bottle to help drain the excess fluids in the pleura.
    • Pleurodesis – uses a sclerosing agent to help scar the pleural surfaces preventing fluid accumulation.

Recurrent Pleural Effusion Treatment

  • For stable cases that do not require hospitalization, the patient is observed for a few days. If the condition does not persist, diagnostic thoracentesis should be done.
  • For stable cases requiring hospitalization such as recurrent pleural effusion, diagnostic thoracentesis is done immediately.
  • Antibiotics and other anti-infectives are also administered to deter the cause for recurrence.

Bilateral Pleural Effusion Treatment

  • For unstable cases such as bilateral pleural effusion, emergency diagnostic and therapeutic thoracentesis should be done.
  • Tube thoracostomy is done in patients diagnosed with pneumothorax, hemothorax, or empyema.

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