Pleural effusion - Overview
Fluid in the chest; Fluid on the lung; Pleural fluid
Definition of Pleural effusion:
A pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
Your body produces pleural fluid in small amounts to lubricate the surfaces of the pleura, the thin tissue that lines the chest cavity and surrounds the lungs. A pleural effusion is an abnormal, excessive collection of this fluid.
Two different types of effusions can develop:
- Transudative pleural effusions are caused by fluid leaking into the pleural space. This is caused by increased pressure in, or low protein content in, the blood vessels. Congestive heart failure is the most common cause.
- Exudative effusions are caused by blocked blood vessels, inflammation, lung injury, and drug reactions.
- Reviewed last on: 9/15/2010
- David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Broaddus C, Light RW. Pleural effusion. In: Mason RJ, Broaddus CV, Martin TR, et al, eds. Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 73.
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