The pleura are thin membranes that wrap around the lungs. They allow the lung to move easily with inspiration and expiration. Many diseases of the chest may involve the pleural membranes (or pleura). Many diseases that involve the pleura cause pleural effusions (collections of fluid around the lung). Common diseases that cause pleural effusions include pneumonia, Valley Fever, tuberculosis, asbestos exposure and heart failure.
Symptoms caused by diseases of the pleura include pain and shortness of breath. Fever, fatigue and weight loss can also occur. The diagnosis of pleural diseases begins with taking a detailed history and performing X-rays of the chest. Additional tests that are often required include CT scans of the chest, sampling fluid in the pleural space (thoracentesis), and occasionally pleuroscopy (a procedure done under anesthesia where a small camera is inserted through the chest into the pleural space allowing direct inspection, biopsy and drainage of fluid).
The treatment of pleural disease depends on the specific etiology. For example, infections are treated with antibiotics and drainage procedures. For pleural effusions that persist despite drainage, there are several options including pleurodesis (instilling a chemical into the pleural space to create a fusion of the membranes preventing further fluid collection) and surgically placed long term drainage catheters.
The lung doctors at Arizona Pulmonary Specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating pleural diseases. For your convenience, we are able to perform thoracentesis (catheter drainage of fluid that has accumulated around your lung) in our office. Our expert team of interventional pulmonologists are specially trained to perform pleuroscopy in additional to other invasive procedures. Our team of doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will work with you to ensure that you understand your medicines and other treatments.