Pleural effusion in mesothelioma

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | mesothelioma

Mesothelioma can cause a build-up of fluid in the pleural space/cavity (the space between the lungs and the chest wall). This build-up is called pleural effusion, and it’s responsible for other mesothelioma symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain and coughing. 

The severity of these symptoms depends on the amount of pleural fluid. Therefore, it’s crucial to learn more about it:

How is it diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects pleural effusion, they can perform a chest X-ray to detect it. This procedure can detect a 200 ml pleural effusion or larger. 

A chest ultrasound (US) can detect small amounts of fluid, and it’s also detailed – a doctor can identify the type of pleural effusion (transudative or exudative). Transudative pleural effusion is when organs and their blood vessels leak fluid into the pleural cavity due to pressure. Exudative pleural effusion is the build-up of fluid in the pleural space due to an infection, such as mesothelioma.

Further, an ultrasound can detect the presence of loculated pleural effusion (fluid that is not free-moving – it appears fixed in space). 

Doctors also use computed tomography (CT) scanning to detect pleural effusion and determine the extent of the underlying disease.

How is it treated?

Pleural effusion can be removed using thoracentesis – a procedure that uses a needle attached to a tube to drain fluid from the pleural cavity. This procedure is not considered a major surgery since it’s minimally invasive; in most cases, it lasts 15 minutes. You will be awake during the procedure – the doctor will use local anesthesia.

After the procedure, your doctor may perform another X-ray or ultrasound to confirm they have drained all the fluid. They may also perform other treatment options to prevent recurrent pleural effusions.

Serious symptoms are associated with mesothelioma. Obtain adequate information about your case to receive just compensation.