Fluid Around the Lungs

CHILD, ADOLESCENT, ADULT AND GERIATRICS
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 pleural effusions are diagnosed in the US each year.

This condition 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.

The symptoms of pleural effusion can range from none to shortness of breath to coughing, among others. The greater the buildup of fluid, the more likely symptoms will be noticeable. In addition to excess fluid, the tissue around the lung may become inflamed, which can cause chest pain. In extreme cases, a person can have up to four liters of excess fluid in the chest. “Imagine trying to breathe with two soda bottles pushed up against your lungs,” Dr. Puchalski says.

Clinical Trials

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