Healthy Living

Are There Medical Procedures That Treat Pleurisy?

Treatments for pleurisy remove the excess fluid or air accumulated within the pleural cavity. Learn about the procedures used to treat pleurisy.

 Are There Medical Procedures That Treat Pleurisy?

Pleurisy is the inflammation of the pleural membranes lining your lungs. It is often associated with the condition known as pleural effusion, which happens when there is a build-up of fluid within the pleural cavity.

Treatment for pleurisy aims to reduce pain, remove the excess fluid or air built in the pleural cavity, and treat the underlying cause. Medical procedures are used in pleurisy to remove the excess fluid or air accumulated within the pleural cavity to prevent your lungs from collapsing. The procedure used to drain the air and fluid is similar. This procedure is called thoracentesis.

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During thoracentesis, your doctor will make a small incision on the lateral aspect of your chest wall, tiny enough to pass a thin needle or a small plastic tube into your pleural cavity. The attached syringe will be used to draw the excess amount of fluid out of the pleural cavity. This procedure will allow your doctor to remove about six cups of fluid each time.

If you have a lot of fluid collected within the pleural cavity, then your doctor will initially inject you with a painkiller to numb the area and insert a plastic tube into the pleural cavity. The other end of the plastic tube will be connected to a box that sucks out the excess fluid from the pleural cavity. A chest X-ray will be taken to make sure that the plastic tube is within the pleural cavity.

Blood and air will also be drained out in a similar way by using a chest tube, but the only difference is that this procedure may take a little bit of time, and therefore, will need hospitalization for a few days.

In some cases, the pleural cavity may contain thick pus or blood clots, which will make this procedure difficult. In cases like this, the doctor will first insert a needle with medications called as fibrinolytics, and inject it to the pleural cavity. These drugs will dissolve the blood clots. If the fluid does not drain even after giving fibrinolytics, then you may need surgery to remove the excess contents.  


This is another medical procedure used in severe cases that may have led to a scarring of the pleural membranes. This is carried out under anaesthesia. In this procedure, a thin scope is inserted to remove pus, scarred tissue, and other debris from the pleural space.


Pleurodesis is a procedure done to seal the pleural cavity to prevent repeated collection of fluids. Repeated fluid build-up within the pleural cavity is commonly seen in cases of lung tumors. Sometimes, anti-cancer drugs will help prevent further fluid build-up. However, this does not work for everyone all the time. In cases where drugs fail, pleurodesis is used to prevent further collection of fluids within the lungs.

Firstly, your doctor will drain all fluid from the pleural cavity using a chest tube. Next, he or she will inject a substance into the pleural cavity. This substance causes irritation to the pleural cavity. This causes the two pleural layers to be glued together, sealing the pleural cavity, and therefore, preventing further build-up of fluid within the pleural space.