Back to Chest Diseases
Pleural effusion is a medical condition where fluid accumulates in
the pleural cavity which surrounds the lungs, making it hard to
Pleural effusion can result from reasons such as:
- lung cancer
- infection such as pneumonia or tuberculosis
- autoimmune disease such as lupus erythematosus
- heart failure
- bleeding, often due to chest trauma (hemothorax)
- low oncotic pressure of the blood plasma
- lymphatic obstruction
- accidental infusion of fluids
Congestive heart failure, bacterial pneumonia and lung cancer
constitute the vast majority of causes in the developed countries,
although tuberculosis is a common cause in the developing world.
In states of excess accumulation, pleural fluid can be sampled and
evaluated to determine what disease state may be causing it. The
evaluation consists of
- Gram stain and culture - identifies bacterial infections
- cell count and differential - differentiates exudative from
- cytology - identifies cancer cells, may also identify some
- chemical composition including protein, lactate dehydrogenase,
amylase, pH and glucose -differentiates exudative from transudative
- other tests as suggested by the clinical situation - lipids,
fungal culture, viral culture, specific immunoglobulins
Are you a doctor or a nurse?
Do you want to join the Doctors Lounge online medical community?
Participate in editorial activities (publish, peer review, edit) and
give a helping hand to the largest online community of patients.
Click on the link below to see the requirements:
Doctors Lounge Membership