Pleural effusion


Fluid that collects between the sheets of tissue that cover the outside of your lung and the lining of your chest cavity

Enquiries & Appointments

The Portland Hospital External


The pleura is a membrane that covers your lungs. It consists of two layers and produces fluid that helps your lungs to move when you breathe. If cancer cells spread to the pleura then fluid can build up and press on your lungs, causing shortness of breath (dyspnoea). The fluid can be removed on a regular basis but, over time, this can be difficult.

Need to know

Symptoms of pleural effusion may include: - Shortness of breath - Chest pain - Coughing
Your consultant will listen to your chest with a stethoscope. If they suspect pleural effusion they may request a chest x-ray or ultrasound scan to confirm diagnosis.
Treatment options include: - Draining the fluid from your lungs by putting a tube into your chest via a small incision. You may need to spend a couple of days in hospital recovering from this procedure. - If it happens again you may need to have the procedure repeated or have the drain left in place permanently - A thoracoscopy. This is a minimally invasive procedure that allows your consultant access to the pleural space using a flexible tube with a camera (thoracoscope) and medical instruments.

Our locations

The Harley Street Clinic

The Harley Street Clinic

35 Weymouth Street W1G 8BJ London
The Portland Hospital

The Portland Hospital

205-209 Great Portland Street W1W 5AH London
The Lister Hospital

The Lister Hospital

Chelsea Bridge Road, SW1W 8RH London

Patient stories

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.