Drainage of pleural effusion
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Are there any other ways of Sunderland managing pleural effusion? Additional information Teaching Primary Care Trust A drug called bleomcyin or tetracycline or q Usually, fluid will be drained off slowly sometimes talc is injected through the drain as a sudden release of pressure in the to help seal the two layers of the pleura chest can cause a drop in blood pressure. together to prevent the fluid from building When the drain is first inserted, a litre up again. This is known as pleurodesis. of fluid may be drained safely. After The doctor injects the drug through the drain this, drainage should be slower. Your and then leaves the drain clamped for blood pressure will be monitored. approximately one hour. To help the drug circulate properly, you will q The chest drain can become blocked. This can sometimes be resolved by Drainage of be asked to lie in various positions in the bed (e.g. on your back, front, left and right sides). changing position or sitting upright. Occasionally the drain may need to be pleural effusion The drain may be attached to a suction replaced. machine to apply a small amount of pressure and help the pleura to seal together. q The drain is also a possible source of When the drain is removed, the stitch is pulled infection. Your temperature will be together, sealing the wound. Usually, the stitch checked for any signs of infection. is removed a week later. The area is covered q If a pleurodesis is necessary, chest pain with a small dressing. may occur for a day or so after It is possible for the pleural effusion to happen treatment and you may need to take again, and drainage may need to be repeated. painkillers. The doctor may also prescribe a diuretic (water q If your drainage tube is attached to a tablet). This can make you want to pass more bottle, you will be able to walk about urine than normal but will slow down the with it. It is important to be careful with build-up of the pleural effusion. the bottle and it should not be raised Further treatment of the cancer may require above the chest as the fluid could go some chemotherapy or hormone therapy. This back into your lungs. will help prevent fluid from building up again. St. Benedict’s Hospice Monkwearmouth Hospital Newcastle Road, Sunderland, SR5 1NB Telephone: (0191) 569 9195 www.hospice.co.uk St. Benedict’s REGISTERED CHARITY NUMBER 1019410 H O S P I C E This information leaflet has been prepared What causes a Drainage of a to help you understand more about drainage of fluid from the area of the lungs (pleural pleural effusion? pleural effusion effusion). Pleural effusions are quite common and are Treatment for pleural effusion involves slowing We hope it will answer any questions you often due to infections (such as pneumonia), the build-up of the fluid, and draining it to might have about your condition and the or heart failure (when the heart is not relieve the symptoms. The drain is usually proposed treatment. pumping the blood efficiently around the inserted by a doctor, who will ask you to sit If you are unsure or concerned about body). on a chair or on the edge of the bed and lean anything, please ask the nurse or your doctor. A pleural effusion can also be a symptom of over a table with a pillow to support you. several types of cancer. This usually develops To prevent infection, the area where the drain if cancer cells have spread to the membrane is to be inserted will be cleaned with an What is a pleural effusion? lining the lungs, where they can lead to antiseptic solution. A local anaesthetic irritation and cause fluid to build up. injection will numb the area so the procedure The lungs are covered by a lining or The types of cancer that are more likely to won’t be painful. membrane called the pleura which has two cause a pleural effusion are lung cancer, Through a very small cut in the chest, the layers, an inner layer and an outer layer. The breast cancer, lymphomas and mesothelioma doctor puts a needle called a cannula. outer layer lines the rib cage and diaphragm (cancer of the lining of the lungs). The cannula is then attached to a tube and (which separates the chest from the drainage bag or bottle, allowing the fluid to abdomen), and the inner layer covers the drain from the chest. Drained fluid may be lungs. The pleura produces a fluid that acts bloodstained, so don’t worry. as a lubricant that helps you breathe easily, If there is a large amount of fluid, you will allowing the lungs to move in and out usually need to stay in hospital for a couple smoothly. Sometimes an excess of this fluid What are the signs of days. The cannula may be held in place can build up between the two layers and and symptoms? with a small stitch. If there is only a small this is called a pleural effusion. amount of fluid, the cannula is removed The build-up of fluid around the lungs presses immediately after the procedure and the area on one or both of them. This makes it very covered with a dressing. Trachea difficult for the lung affected to expand fully. When the local anaesthetic wears off, you It can make you increasingly breathless, not may have some pain or discomfort. If so, let Right lung only on exertion but at rest as well. You may the doctor or nurse know as you can be Pleura also get some chest pain and a cough. prescribed medication to help. (lung lining) Once the doctor believes that most of the fluid has drained, you may have a chest x-ray Pleural effusion (fluid in the to see if your lung has re-expanded. pleural space) Depending on this, the drain will be removed.