What are the Different Types of Pleural Effusion Treatment?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Pleural effusion is a condition in which there is a collection of fluid in the pleural cavity. This collection of fluid can create a great deal of difficulty in breathing, since the fluid inhibits the ability of the lungs to expand and contract. Fortunately, there are methods of pleural effusion treatment that can deal with this ailment quickly and effectively.

A pleural effusion occurs when excess fluid builds around the lungs.
A pleural effusion occurs when excess fluid builds around the lungs.

One common pleural effusion treatment involves the insertion of what is known as an intercoastal drain. With this strategy, a drainage tube is surgically inserted into the chest cavity. A small incision is made in the pleural cavity to allow the end of the tube to enter the area where the fluid has collected. Generally, the area around the incision is abraded in order to promote the development of scar tissue to hold the tube in place and prevent seepage of fluid into the surrounding tissue. Over a period of several days or weeks, the fluid is incrementally drained from the pleural cavity, allowing the lungs to begin functioning properly once more.

This form of pleural effusion treatment is performed in a hospital. For the duration of the treatment, the patient must remain in the care of the hospital staff. During the course of the drainage process, healthcare professionals can monitor the progress, deal with any infection that might occur, and in general keep the patient as comfortable as possible. In the event that the tube should become blocked or twisted in any fashion, a doctor or nurse can quickly remedy the problem and allow the drainage process to continue.

An alternative to the intercoastal drain is known as the pleurix catheter. With this approach to pleural effusion treatment, the device is inserted into the chest cavity in a manner similar to the drain, and is equipped with a one way valve that controls the flow of fluid out of the pleural cavity. Using this type of catheter does not require the patient to remain at the hospital during the drainage process. Instead, the valve can be opened each day and the pleural fluid that has built up since the last draining can be released. Patients can often manage this process themselves, or perform the daily draining of lung fluid with the aid of a caregiver. From time to time, a doctor can check the status of the catheter and make sure it is working as it should.

In severe cases, a surgical procedure to join the two pleural sections may be required. A pleural effusion treatment of this type makes it impossible for fluid to collect and thus helps to prevent the development of any type of lung disease due to fluid collection. This approach may also be helpful in minimizing the chances of congestive heart failure due to collection of fluid in the chest cavity.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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