Fluid Around the Lungs (Pleural Effusion)

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
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Why Yale Medicine?
  • Our clinical care teams include a physician assistant and an advanced practice registered nurse trained in interventional pulmonology.
  • We offer bilateral thoracenteses, which removes fluid from both lungs in a single sitting, rather than performing two separate procedures.
  • Our doctors rarely ask patients to stop taking blood-thinning medication before the procedure, unlike physicians at most other centers.

Fluid around the lung (pleural effusion) is a potentially dangerous condition that can masquerade as something less worrisome. What may seem like chest pain or coughing due to a bad cold could actually have serious health ramifications. It’s not that rare, either. More than 1.5 million people are diagnosed with pleural effusion in the United States each year.

Pleural effusion occurs when fluid builds up in the space between the lung and the chest wall. This can happen for many different reasons, including pneumonia or complications from heart, liver, or kidney disease. Another reason could be as a side effect from cancers. “One of the most common reasons pleural effusion develops is due to congestive heart failure,” says Jonathan Puchalski, MD, a pulmonologist at Yale Medicine and director of the Interventional Pulmonary Program at Yale School of Medicine.

Clinical Trials

New treatments for many conditions are tested in clinical trials, which ultimately bring lifesaving new drugs and devices to the patients who need them most. By participating in a clinical trial, you may get access to the most advanced treatments for your condition, and help determine their benefits for future patients.