Pleurisy and other pleural disorders are treated with procedures, medicines, and other methods. The goals of treatment include:
To relieve pleurisy symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
Your doctor may recommend removing fluid, air, or blood from your pleural space to prevent a lung collapse.
The procedures used to drain fluid, air, or blood from the pleural space are similar.
Sometimes the fluid in the pleural space contains thick pus or blood clots. It may form a hard skin or peel, which makes the fluid harder to drain. To help break up the pus or blood clots, your doctor may use a chest tube to deliver medicines called fibrinolytics to the pleural space. If the fluid still won't drain, you may need surgery.
If you have a small, persistent air leak into the pleural space, your doctor may attach a one-way valve to the chest tube. The valve allows air to exit the pleural space, but not reenter. Using this type of valve may allow you to continue your treatment from home.
The fluid sample that was removed during thoracentesis will be checked under a microscope. This can tell your doctor what's causing the fluid buildup, and he or she can decide the best way to treat it.
If the fluid is infected, treatment will involve antibiotics and drainage. If you have tuberculosis or a fungal infection, treatment will involve long-term use of antibiotics or antifungal medicines.
If tumors in the pleura are causing fluid buildup, the fluid may quickly build up again after it's drained. Sometimes antitumor medicines will prevent further fluid buildup. If they don't, your doctor may seal the pleural space. Sealing the pleural space is called pleurodesis (plur-OD-eh-sis).
For this procedure, your doctor will drain all of the fluid out of your chest through a chest tube. Then he or she will push a substance through the chest tube into the pleural space. The substance will irritate the surface of the pleura. This will cause the two layers of the pleura to stick together, preventing more fluid from building up.
Chemotherapy or radiation treatment also may be used to reduce the size of the tumors.
If heart failure is causing fluid buildup, treatment usually includes diuretics (medicines that help reduce fluid buildup) and other medicines.
Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Pleurisy and Other Pleural Disorders, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.