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Pleural effusion - Definition


Pleural effusion is the invasion of the pleural cavity with liquid: also referred to as pleurisy. Pleurisy is, more specifically, an inflammation of the pleura, the membrane that lines the inside of the chest wall, and surrounds and protects the lungs. Pleurisy may be dry, in which case it is referred to as pleuritis, or in the case of a presence of liquid, the term pleural effusion is used. This condition is often suspected when the patient has difficulty breathing, and a chest X-ray will confirm the diagnosis. The various causes of pleurisy can be trauma, infection, inflammation of adjacent organs, a cancerous tumor, sometimes heart failure, and kidney or liver disease. Treating the cause may also treat the effusion, but sometimes the liquid must be removed using a needle, to identify its nature, and surgery may be necessary to repair the injured pleura and prevent relapse.