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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. Pleurodesis brings the 2 layers together so there is no room for air or fluid. You may have surgical or chemical pleurodesis.

The Lungs

How do I prepare for pleurodesis?

  • Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. Tell your provider about all medicines you take. Include prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medicines. He or she may tell you to stop taking certain medicines a few days before your procedure. Examples include blood thinners, NSAIDs, and aspirin. Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to anesthesia.
  • Your healthcare provider may need to take a sample of the fluid inside your pleural space for testing. You may need blood tests, chest x-rays, an ultrasound, or a CT scan before your procedure. Your healthcare provider may use some of these tests to decide where he or she will put your chest tube. Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid. If you are a woman, tell your provider if you are or could be pregnant. Some tests could be harmful to an unborn baby.
  • Your provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. He or she will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. Arrange to have someone drive you home after your pleurodesis.

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 a small incision on your chest. He or she will insert a scope with a camera on the end into the incision. The scope may be connected to a video monitor. Talc will then be placed directly into your pleural space. Your healthcare provider may also use a laser or heat to irritate your pleural space. These procedures cause the pleural layers to stick together. The scope will be removed and the incision will be covered.
  • You may be given local or conscious sedation 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. He or she 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 will happen after pleurodesis?

  • 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 or air still remaining in your pleural space. Your healthcare provider will send you home when your chest tube drains enough fluid. You may be sent home with drains still in place. You will be shown how to care for the drains.
  • You may have some chest pain after the procedure. This is normal. Pain medicine may be given if the pain continues. Oxygen may also be given if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be.

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. 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 get an empyema (pus in your pleural space caused by bacteria).
  • You may develop pneumonia or other serious lung problems. Your heartbeat might change. You may bleed more than expected. You may develop acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) from the powder. ARDS can cause life-threatening breathing problems.

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 healthcare providers 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.

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Further information

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