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Pleural Effusion & Pleurodesis

Pleural Effusion & Pleurodesis

December 14, 2021
Emily Cassidy, MD
Emily Cassidy, MD

Cardiothoracic Surgery

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There may be a recommendation for an operation called a pleurodesis or a pleural catheter insertion. A pleurodesis is when the fluid is all drained off of the lung in the operating room typically. And then determination is made whether that lung is trapped or whether it’s able to re-expand. If the lung is trapped, a pleurodesis is not going to work, but if the lung is able to re-expand once the fluid is removed, a pleurodesis is where we put talcum powder throughout the chest cavity. There are other pleurodesing agents, but I would say that that’s the most common. With the goal of creating inflammation so that the lung will then stick to the chest wall. And that obliterates the space where the fluid is forming so that it doesn’t return. If, on the other hand, the lung is trapped, meaning that even with pushing air in, it’s not coming up enough to reach that chest wall, a pleurodesis is not going to be effective. In that scenario, the surgeon will typically place an indwelling pleural catheter, which is a soft, small silicone tube that sits under a bandage and the patient can go home with it and drain it as needed.