Home > Health Library > Pleural Effusion
Pleural effusion is the buildup of fluid between the outer
lining of the lungs (visceral pleura) and the inner lining
(parietal pleura) of the chest cavity. This fluid buildup
has many causes, including infection, inflammation, heart failure,
pancreatitis, or cancer.
Minor pleural effusion may not cause
any symptoms. A large amount of fluid may prevent the complete
expansion of a lung, making it hard for the person to breathe. Possible
symptoms of pleural effusion may include:
A doctor may diagnose pleural
effusion during a physical exam and then confirm the diagnosis with a chest
Minor pleural effusion often heals on its own. If
treatment is needed, it may involve removal of the fluid using a needle
inserted through the chest wall (thoracentesis). The fluid may be sent to a lab
to find out what is causing the fluid to build up.
Current as of:
May 23, 2016
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Robert L. Cowie, MB, FCP(SA), MD, MSc, MFOM - Pulmonology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
I Want To...
Join Our Social Network