Pleural Effusion and Infection (Empyema)

Pleural effusion

A pleural effusion is when an abnormal amount of fluid accumulates in the area between the lining surrounding the lungs known as the pleural cavity. When an excessive amount of fluid is collected, it can severely impair breathing on a massive scale as the lungs are limited from expanding during ventilation.

The pleura is the membrane that lines the outside of the lungs. This membrane carries a small amount of liquid in order to lubricate the lungs during ventilation. Sometimes the membrane can get irritated, infected or inflamed therefore causing an excess fluid in the pleural cavity.

Malignant pleural effusion

Malignant pleural effusion is a condition in which cancer causes an abnormal amount of fluid to collect in the pleura

Pleural infection

Pleural infection (empyema) within the pleural cavity is a common and an increasing clinical problem, especially in the elderly and in childhood. Bacteria in the pleural space can lead to pleural effusion and/or the collection of pus.

Current research

We all work towards a common goal – to offer the best quality of life to everyone living with a chronic lung condition.

Led by Professor Gary Lee, the Pleural Medicine Unit, are looking for ways to help people who have complications from fluid build-up within the pleural space.

Professor Lee and his team have developed a new treatment where an indwelling pleural catheter (IPC) is placed in a patient’s chest, allowing excess fluid to be drained. This treatment plan is non-evasive and can be done at home instead of having to go into hospital.

Professor Lee’s was interviewed on 6PR recently explaining the research trial and what is involved in the new therapy.