Jefferson University Hospitals

Pleural Effusion

When fluid accumulates in the pleural space (outside the lungs in the lining of the chest cavity), it is known as pleural effusion. It can make breathing more difficult, causing you to cough along with rapid breathing and windedness. To determine the cause of pleural effusion, seek the expertise of pulmonologists at Jefferson.

Several diseases – such as congestive heart failure, liver or kidney failure or cancer – can alter the normal factors that keep fluid from accumulating in the pleural space. Our staff is skilled in performing the following procedures to determine the cause of the fluid and whether inflammatory disease, infection or cancer is present:

  • Thoracentesis – a procedure that involves removing a sample of the fluid
  • Pleural biopsy – a procedure in which a sample of the pleura is removed with a special biopsy needle or during surgery
  • Specialized procedures to keep fluid from re-accumulating including chest tubes, pigtail catheters and tunneled catheters