Pleural disease

Chest disease

Air, fluid or particles in the space between the lungs and chest wall can cause disease — HCA UK has the expertise to help


The pleura is a thin tissue that surrounds the lungs and lines the inside of the chest wall. The pleural space is the area between the lungs and the chest wall. It helps keep the lungs inflated. If fluid, air, or particles move into the space it can lead to a partial or complete collapse of the lung, or disease.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of pleural disease icon plus

    Many diseases affect the pleural space including common diseases such as pneumonia, breast cancer, and heart failure. Pleural disease is, therefore, often a secondary effect of another disease process. In addition, inhaled toxic particles such as asbestos can move into the pleural space where, decades later, a cancer called mesothelioma can develop. Pleural effusion (large amounts of liquid in the pleural space) is the most common form of pleural disease and a common presentation of other conditions such as heart failure or kidney failure.

    Common symptoms of pleural disease are:

    • chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • coughing up blood
    • nausea
    • sweating
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    See your doctor if you have chest pain or other symptoms of pleural disease. Pleural disease can usually be diagnosed based on your symptoms. Your doctor will listen to your chest, although further tests may be needed. These tests include:

    • blood tests
    • chest X-rays
    • an ultrasound scan
    • a CT scan
    • a biopsy

    Get immediate help if you have severe chest pain, particularly if you also have other symptoms, such as coughing up blood, nausea or sweating.

  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment for pleural disease usually involves relieving the pain and, in some cases, treating the underlying cause. If treated promptly, pleural disease often gets better without causing any lasting lung damage.

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