Pleural Effusions and Pleural Space Infections (Empyema)

In order to effectively ensure your overall thoracic health, Yale Thoracic Surgery specializes in all types of conditions, including pleural effusions. The term pleura refers to the membrane that surrounds the lungs (visceral pleura) or inside of the chest wall (parietal pleura). The space in between the inner and outer pleura is called the pleural cavity, or pleural space. This cavity normally contains a small amount of fluid, but when this space builds up too much fluid, the condition is referred to as a pleural effusion. Pleural effusions are complex because they can be brought on by a variety of underlying conditions that demand the experienced attention of our surgeons. There are many risk factors and causes associated with pleural effusions or pleural space infections including many medical conditions, such as pneumonia, heart failure, and cancer, among several others. Just because you have one of these risk factors does not mean that you will get a pleural effusions or pleural space infection. Patients with pleural space problems can present with some common symptoms including difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, or signs of infection. A simple chest X-ray, ultrasound, or chest CT scan can both identify and better characterize the problems. After having one of these diagnostic tests, our surgeons will develop a plan that will best suit you and the pleural space problem. The plan may range from the drainage of the fluid in the office to a more sophisticated minimally invasive operation to treat a more complicated problem.

The thoracic surgery practice encompasses all aspects of your thoracic health including diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care. Our internationally renowned surgeons work as part of a multidisciplinary team to provide the best diagnostic and treatment options for your pleural effusion or pleural space infection. As faculty of the Yale School of Medicine Department of Surgery, they are continually redefining standards of care through their comprehensive skill, innovative procedures, ongoing research, and the application of evidence-based medicine.

Our surgeons are highly skilled at performing even the most advanced surgical techniques for both common and complex conditions. At Yale Thoracic Surgery, we know that the surgical process can feel intimidating. Our surgeons will walk you through the process, step by step, so that you understand the procedure and feel comfortable with your treatment options.