Pleural Effusion occurs when an excessive amount of fluid accumulates in the cavity of the pleural membrane that protects the lungs and chest wall. When treating this condition, the main goals are re-expansion of the lung and improvement in the symptomatology of the shortness of breath and sharp chest pains. There are multiple ways in which pleural effusion can be treated. The first type of treatment is a thoracentesis that would remove the excess fluid from the pleural cavity. This fluid is then examined to identify the type of effusion the lung had suffered and the underlying illness that onset the pleural effusion. By simply studying the removed fluid, doctors can inform a patient of more serious diseases he or she may be suffering from, such as cancer. Another treatment method is a chest tube placement. This method is much more effective at completely draining the pleural cavity of fluid, especially if the fluid is high in protein causing it to be more viscous. A third type of treatment is video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery with pleurodesis. This treatment is mostly reserved for very severe effusions, most of which are exudative effusions, and malignant pleural effusions that are secondary to caner.
Most patients who are diagnosed with this type of effusion are expected to live only up to six more months. In rare cases of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and some lymphomas that end up being cured, the pleural effusion can eventually be treated as well. Lung cancer is the most common cause of malignant pleural effusion, accounting for 40% of all cases. Tumors that metastasize to the lymph nodes in the mediastinum can cause the lymphatics to occlude, which in turn leads to the development of malignant pleural effusion because the fluid has no way to drain. Malignant pleural effusions are diagnosed by observing specific cells in the drained fluid during treatment. Often, there are very few malignant cells, causing the diagnoses to be incorrect or inconclusive. Treatment of malignant pleural effusion is a very complicated algorithm depending on the longevity of the patient, the cell type and primary cancer causing the disorder, the control of the tumor in the rest of the body, symptomatic benefit from therapeutic thoracentesis, and other comorbidities like general debility and COPD.
When a patient positively responds symptomatically to a thoracentesis, further treatment is usually sought out to ensure a full recovery and emptying of the pleural cavity. Patients who do not experience symptomatic relief from a thoracentesis are usually not good subjects for further more aggressive treatment. These patients are most likely suffering from dyspnea and shortness of breath due to pathology in the lung.
Complete treatment can take about a week, or several weeks, depending on the method. Following initial treatment, most patients will have a chest tube to ensure complete drainage. This takes several days, being the most uncomfortable portion of the treatment procedure, though it ensures rapid recovery. Another method allows patients to drain fluid at home, last several weeks. However, it gives patients the opportunity to go home and visit loved-ones, rather than completing the entire treatment procedure in one sitting without the ability to leave the hospital. Both methods are equally effective, though.
See more information about pleural effusion and how to get help if you have an illness that can lead to this condition. Visit the following links: thoracentesis Los Angeles CA, and pleural effusion treatment Los Angeles CA.