ALERT

For the latest coronavirus care instructions and resources, please call our COVID-19 hotline at 208-381-9500. Find additional information and resources here and learn more about how we’re working to keep you healthy and safe.

toggle mobile menu Menu
toggle search menu

Site Navigation

Supplemental

Menu

Pleural effusion

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:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Fever.
  • A cough.

A doctor may diagnose pleural effusion during a physical exam and then confirm the diagnosis with a chest X-ray.

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.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Healthwise is a URAC accredited health web site content provider. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.