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What do I need to know about pleurodesis?

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.

How do I prepare for pleurodesis?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. He may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery.

What will happen during pleurodesis?

  • 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.

What are the risks of pleurodesis?

  • 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.

Care Agreement

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. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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

Learn more about Pleurodesis

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