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Pleurisy is an inflammation of the pleura, the membrane that lines the inside of the chest wall, surrounding and protecting the lungs. The pleura of the lung are composed of two layers: one called the parietal and lines the lung cavity, the other called the visceral sheet which is in direct contact with lungs. Symptoms can occur suddenly (acute pleurisy), or be spread out long-term (chronic pleurisy). We must also distinguish pleurisy with effusion (fluid flows and accumulates around the lungs) from dry pleurisy. The various causes of pleurisy can be trauma, infection, inflammation of adjacent structures, a cancerous tumor, and sometimes heart failure.


Pleurisy usually manifests itself in the form of chest pain located on one side of the chest, coughing, typically triggered by a change of position, and with breathing difficulties if presence of fluid is major. If the cause is an infection, a fever is usually present.


The diagnosis of pleurisy is hinted at by the signs described by the patient. In addition, an auscultation of the lungs will often highlight characteristic signs, reflecting the presence of fluid in the pleura: sounds typically heard on auscultation are generally reduced or absent in one lung. Confirmation is fairly simple, often by performing a chest X-ray showing the presence of fluid in the pleura. Other tests, such as a CT scan or ultrasound are sometimes prescribed for the search for a cause. An analysis of the liquid in the pleura after puncture is also possible.


Treatment will be closely linked to the cause of the disease, which absolutely must be prioritized: antibiotics for bacterial infection, anti-tuberculosis drugs in the case of TB, chemotherapy in the case of cancer cells ... In addition, the pleura is to be emptied of liquid and a puncture with aspiration may be required in the case of emergency signs or an overall poor condition of the patient.

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