Malignant pleural mesothelioma is among several medical conditions that may cause lymphatic fluid to build up between the parietal pleura (also called the chest wall lining) and the visceral pleura (lung lining). This condition is called pleural effusion. Shortness of breath and pain caused by pressure on bodily organs are among the most common symptoms of this illness.

Treatment for Pleural Effusion

Pleurodesis is not used to treat mesothelioma, however it is a common treatment for people diagnosed with pleural effusion. During this process, medical specialists inject a chemical into the space between the patient’s pleural membranes with a needle or an instrument called a thoracoscope. The injected substance, usually talc, causes irritation in the pleural membranes. According to the American Cancer Society, due to this irritation, the membranes swell and stick together. Once they bond, they eliminate the space and the fluid can no longer build up.

Treatment Procedure

The pleurodesis procedure is often performed at the patient’s bedside or in an operating room. When performed bedside, the patient receives a local anesthetic, which means patients stay conscious during the procedure. After administering the anesthetic, the physician inserts a needle into the patient’s chest cavity.

When the procedure is done in an operating room, the medical professional uses a general anesthesia, rendering the patient completely unconscious. The physician then uses a video-assisted thoracoscope. This video helps the physician maneuver the needle.

In both bedside and surgical pleurodesis, the needle’s tip enters the pleural space. It goes between the two membranes and latches onto a drainage tube. Lymphatic fluid is removed slowly to avoid an overwhelming blood pressure reduction. After the lymphatic fluid is taken out, the physician will then inject talc into the body with the use of a needle.

This talc is aimed at the pleural space opened after the fluid is removed. The physician then clamps the space, securing the talc inside. After about an hour, the physician may attach a suction device to the drain to make certain that the layers stick together correctly.


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