Lasix To Treat Pleural Effusion

Pleural Effusion (Inpatient Care) - Care Guide

Nadia Persaud


Pleural Effusion (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

The pleura (PLOOR-ah) are thin layers of tissue that form a two-layered lining around the lungs. One layer of the pleura rests directly on the lungs. The other layer rests on the chest wall. Between these layers, there is a small amount of fluid, called pleural (PLOO-ral) fluid. This fluid helps your lungs move easily while you breathe. Sometimes extra fluid collects in the space between the two pleural layers. This is called pleural effusion (e-FU-zhun). Many things may cause a pleural effusion, such as lung infections (in-FECK-shuns), heart failure, or cancer. The first step in treating pleural effusion is to treat the cause, if it is known. You may need to have the extra fluid removed. More treatments may be needed if your pleural effusion causes problems or keeps coming back.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


A pleural effusion may cause or worsen a lung infection, such as pneumonia (noo-MOH-nyah). The extra fluid may get infected and form a pocket of pus, which is called empyema (em-peye-EE-ma). You may have other problems, such as a collapsed lung. The problems you may have depend on what is causing your pleural effusion. Talk to your caregiver about any concerns you may have about your illness or treatment.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Call button:

You may use the call button when you need your caregiver. Pain, trouble breathing, or wanting to get out of bed are good reasons to call. The call button should always be close enough for you to reach it.


Keep the head of your bed raised to help you breathe easier. You can also raise your head and shoulders up on pillows or rest in a reclining chair. If you feel short of breath, let caregivers know right away.


Tests help caregivers find out what is causing your illness and how your body is handling it. Other tests are used to help caregivers plan your treatment. The tests you need depend on what may be causing your pleural effusion and other health problems you may have. You may need one or more of the following tests:

  • Vital signs: Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.
  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.
  • Chest x-ray: This is a picture of your lungs and heart. Caregivers use it to see how your lungs and heart are doing. Caregivers may use the x-ray to look for signs of infection like pneumonia, or to look for collapsed lungs. Chest x-rays may show tumors, broken ribs, or fluid around the heart and lungs.
  • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.
  • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.
  • Sputum sample: Sputum (mucus from your lungs) is collected in a cup when you cough. The sample is sent to a lab to be tested for the germ that is causing your illness. It can also help your caregiver choose the best medicine to treat the infection.
  • Heart monitor: This test is also called an EKG or ECG. Sticky pads are placed on your skin to record your heart's electrical activity. An EKG gives information about how your heart is working. Lie as still as possible during the test.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is a simple test that allows caregivers to see inside of your chest. Sound waves are used to show pictures of your organs and tissues on a TV-like screen. An ultrasound may help caregivers find extra pleural fluid or the cause of it.
  • CT scan: This is also called a CAT scan. A special x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of the inside of your chest. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken. The dye is usually given in your IV. The dye may help your caregiver see the pictures better. People who are allergic to shellfish (lobster, crab, or shrimp) may be allergic to some dyes. Tell the caregiver if you are allergic to shellfish or have other allergies.
  • Biopsy: A biopsy (BEYE-op-see) is a procedure to remove a small piece of tissue from your lung or pleural lining. The tissue will be sent to the lab for tests. A biopsy may be taken with a needle, or through a small cut in your chest wall. If you need a biopsy, ask your caregiver for more information about the kind of biopsy you will have.
  • Thoracentesis: A thoracentesis (thohr-ah-sen-TEE-sis) is a procedure to take fluid out of your chest. You are given numbing medicine, and then a needle is put between two of your ribs. The extra pleural fluid is sucked out through the needle. This fluid may be sent to the lab for tests. These tests may help caregivers find out what is causing your pleural effusion and the best way to treat it. You may breathe easier when the fluid is removed. You may need a thoracentesis more than once.
  • Bronchoscopy: This is a procedure to look inside your airway and learn the cause of your airway or lung condition. A bronchoscope (thin tube with a light) is inserted into your mouth and moved down your throat to your airway. You may be given medicine to numb your throat and help you relax during the procedure. Tissue and fluid may be collected from your airway or lungs to be tested.
  • Thoracoscopy or VATS: A thoracoscopy (thor-ah-KOS-kah-pee) lets caregivers see inside your chest and perform tests or treatments. It is sometimes called video-assisted thoracic (thoh-RAS-ik) surgery, or VATS. Caregivers use a special scope to do a VATS or thoracoscopy procedure. A scope is a long tube with a light and small camera on the end. The scope is put into one or more incisions (cuts) in your chest wall. You will have special medicine, called anesthesia (an-es-THEE-zah), to make you comfortable during the surgery or procedure. Caregivers work with you to decide which anesthesia is best and whether you will be awake or completely asleep.


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