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Pleurodesis is a procedure to remove air or fluid buildup in the pleural space in your chest. The pleura are thin layers of tissue that form a 2-layered lining around the lungs. In between the 2 pleura is a small, fluid-filled space called the pleural space. You may have surgical or chemical pleurodesis.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Anesthesia is medicine to make you comfortable during the surgery. Healthcare providers will work with you to decide which anesthesia is best for you.
    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.
    • Local anesthesia is a shot of medicine put into the area where the procedure will be done. It is used to numb the area and dull the pain. You may still feel pressure or pushing during surgery.

During your procedure:

  • You may be given general anesthesia if you are having surgical pleurodesis. After air or fluid is drained from your pleural space, your surgeon will make an incision on your chest. He will insert a scope with a camera on the end into the incision. The scope may be connected to a video monitor. Gauze cloths may be inserted through the scope and used to dry the walls of your pleural space. A powdery substance will then be placed directly into your pleural space. Your healthcare provider may also use a laser or heat to irritate your pleural space. The scope will be removed and the incision will be closed with stitches.
  • You may be given local or monitored anesthesia if you are having chemical pleurodesis. Your healthcare provider will put a tube in your chest and drain any excess fluid from your pleural space. Your healthcare provider will then put a chemical into the chest tube and clamp it. You may be asked to change your position several times. This helps the chemical reach every part of your pleural space. The tube will be unclamped and connected to a bottle to collect and measure any remaining fluids.

After your procedure:

You will be taken to a room to rest until you are fully awake. You will be monitored closely for any problems. Do not get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is okay. You may need to stay in the hospital for several days after your procedure. This will allow your healthcare providers to check how much fluid is draining from your pleural space. A CT scan may also show if fluid and air still remain in your pleural space. Your healthcare provider may decide to send you home when your chest tube drains enough fluid. You may also need any of the following:

  • Medicines:
    • Pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
    • Patient controlled analgesia may be given through an IV or an epidural line attached to a patient controlled analgesia (PCA) pump. Healthcare providers set the pump to let you give yourself small amounts of pain medicine when you push a button. Your pump may also give you a constant amount of medicine in addition to the medicine that you give yourself. Let healthcare providers know if you feel pain even with the pain medicine.
  • Oxygen may be given if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • You may get a fever. The medicines used for pleurodesis may cause you to get an upset stomach. Your blood pressure may decrease. Even after pleurodesis, fluids in your pleural space may not be drained completely. The fluids may build up again, and you may need to have another pleurodesis. You may also get an empyema, which is pus in your pleural space caused by bacteria. If you have an empyema, you may need to have it drained through a tube.
  • You may get pneumonia or other serious lung problems. You may have chest pain, and your heartbeat might change. You may bleed more than expected. Powder used in pleurodesis may cause your organs to swell or cause you to have an allergic reaction. You may have trouble breathing or stop breathing.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Pleurodesis (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

Micromedex® Care Notes