Definition of "Pleural effusion"

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Pleural effusion (aka water on the lung) is excess fluid accumulating between the 2 pleural layers that surround the lungs.

  • Although normally containing fluid, excessive amounts can impair breathing by limiting the expansion of the lungs during inspiration
  • 5 types of fluid can accumulate in the pleural space, including:
    • Hydrothorax (serous fluid)
    • Hemothorax (blood)
    • Urinothorax (urine)
    • Chylothorax (chyle)
    • Pyrothorax (pus)
  • Transudative pleural effusion, involving increased permeability of the capillaries in the lung, due to release of cytokines or inflammatory mediators (e.g. vascular endothelial growth factor) from the platelet-rich blood clots. It is caused by:
    • Congestive heart failure
    • Liver cirrhosis
    • Hypoproteinemia
    • Nephrotic syndrome
    • Acute atelectasis
    • Myxedema
    • Peritoneal dialysis
    • Meigs syndrome
    • Obstructive uropathy
    • ESRD (end stage kidney disease)
  • Exudative pleural effusion, caused by:
    • Bacterial pneumonia
    • Cancer, including lung cancer, breast cancer, and lymphoma
    • Viral infection
    • Pulmonary embolism

Patient information

What's the difference between transudate and exudate? It sounds so similar?
Transudate is fluid pushed through a blood vessel due to high blood pressure. Exudate is fluid that leaks AROUND the blood vessel's cells, caused by inflammation.

  • CXR, showing as an area of whiteness, as there is abnormal fluid collection

Source: Wikimedia

Patient information

How do you confirm fluid in the pleural space?
Using a chest x-ray. It should show an area of whiteness. Indicating abnormal fluid collection.

See also
  • Pulmonary edema (water IN the lung)
  • Pneumothorax (accumulation of AIR in the pleural space)

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Definition of Pleural effusion | Autoprac

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