Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid between the membranes covering the lung and the thoracic cavity. Many medical conditions and conditions can cause pleural effusion, including heart failure, pneumonia, infections, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis and tuberculosis. This can also occur due to exposure to asbestos, possibly due to the asbestos-induced inflammation and disease they cause.
Although they are not as common as other side effects associated with asbestos, such as pleural thickening and pleural plaques, pleural effusions can cause pain or extreme discomfort. They can also be a sign of a serious condition such as asbestosis (lung fibrosis) or malignant mesothelioma. If you are a former employer or another party with asbestos exposition, you should consider seeing a mesothelioma attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to assess your case and determine your chances of getting an agreement or a financial compensation in the form of a court verdict.
Causes of pleural effusion
Mesothelium, or membranes surrounding the major organs of the body, contains cells that produce small amounts of fluid that acts as a lubricant, causing the organs to rub against each other without causing damage.
Two examples are the mesothelium of the pleura – the mesothelium that passes through the lungs (pleura) and the thoracic cavity (parietal pleura), which come into contact during the expansion and contraction of the lungs. The fluid filling the space between the parietal pleura and pleural effusion called Pleve.
When the right amount of pleural fluid is produced, it is easily absorbed by the capillaries and lymph nodes. However, certain conditions, including pleural thickening, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, can cause the pleura to produce too much fluid: This is called a pleural effusion.
There are two types of pleural fluid – exudative and transudative – and therefore two types of pleural effusion: transudative pleural effusion and exudative pleural effusion. This is often caused by asbestosis and asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma. These diseases can cause irritation, swelling, and inflammation, which in turn cause the blood vessels of the pleura to circulate additional fluid in the pleural space. When examined under a microscope, the exudative fluid can be identified by its viscosity and cloudy appearance.
The symptoms of pleural effusion
Although some asbestosis and patients with pleural mesothelioma show no symptoms with pleural effusions, others may have the following symptoms:
- to cough
- Pain in the chest
- chest pressure
- Respiratory insufficiency (respiratory distress)
- Fast breathing
Symptoms related to breast and respiration can also be caused by other side effects of asbestos-related diseases, including pleural thickening. As a result, pleural effusions are often undetected or undiagnosed until they are discovered on chest x-rays.
Diagnosis and tests for pleural effusion
Pleural effusions are often discovered by physicians trying to determine the source for the symptoms of a patient. For example, a doctor can examine a patient with a stethoscope can detect a gentle breeze or a silent sound that hits through the patient’s chest.
If a physician suspects a pleural effusion, he/she may request X-rays to confirm the diagnosis and determine the amount of fluid in the pleural space. If cardiac insufficiency has been excluded, the doctor can perform a procedure called thoracentesis to remove a small sample of pleural fluid for analysis. Also called pleural fluid aspiration, this relatively painless procedure is performed by inserting a needle between the ribs to access the pleural space. The liquid is then removed and examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells, bacteria and a protein called mesothelin. New research suggests that a high degree of mesothelin may indicate mesothelioma.
Sonogram and/or computed tomography (CT) can also be controlled to diagnose pleural effusions.
Complications of pleural effusion
Complications of pleural effusions include the collapse of the lungs; Pneumothorax, or air in the thoracic cavity, which is a frequent side-effect of the thoracocentesis; And empyema (abscesses) caused by an infection of the pleural fluid, which requires a fluid drainage.
Pleural effusion may place patients with asbestosis or mesothelioma at a greater risk as other patients – if this causes difficulty in breathing. This is because patients with these disorders often suffer from pleural scars, making it difficult to breathe. Pleural effusion can exacerbate this problem and ultimately properly breathing inability can significantly contribute to the downward spiral of the patient.
Treatment of pleural effusion
In some cases, no treatment is required for pleural effusion. However, when doctors combine the discomfort of accumulation of fluid or pain in a patient – or other more serious side effects – they often take steps to address the causes and / or effects of stroke. As mentioned above, a patient suffering from asbestosis or mesothelioma may have a condition that makes breathing difficult. To deal with this, the doctors do everything to resolve the causes.
In patients with breathing problems associated with pleural effusion, this may include:
Thoracentesis. The further removal of pleural fluid can relieve the pressure on the chest which makes breathing easier.
Chemical pleurodesis. This method involves introducing agents such as talc or bleomycin to completely eliminate the pleural space so that the fluid can no longer accumulate.
Pleural decortication. Also known as pleurectomy, this operation removes the pleura; As the chemical pleurodesis, pleural decortication removes the pleural space, preventing the pleural fluid from accumulating.
For more information on mesothelioma symptoms and other asbestos related issues, asbestos and malignant mesothelioma, see more articles on our site. If you or a family member were diagnosed with a disease related to asbestos, contact a mesothelioma attorney as soon as possible.