Condition 101 About Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion

What is the definition of Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid in the pleural space. The pleural space is the area between the layers of the tissue lining the lung and the chest cavity.

With parapneumonic pleural effusion, the fluid buildup is caused by pneumonia.

What are the alternative names for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Pleural effusion - pneumonia

What are the causes for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Pneumonia, most commonly from bacteria, causes parapneumonic pleural effusion.

What are the symptoms for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Symptoms can include any of the following:

  • Chest pain, usually a sharp pain that is worse with cough or deep breaths
  • Cough with sputum
  • Fever
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath

What are the current treatments for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat the pneumonia.

If the person has shortness of breath, thoracentesis might be used to drain the fluid. If better drainage of the fluid is needed due to more severe infection, a drain tube can be inserted.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

This condition improves when the pneumonia improves.

What are the possible complications for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Complications may include:

  • Lung damage
  • Infection that turns into an abscess, called an empyema, which will need to be drained with a chest tube
  • Collapsed lung (pneumothorax) after thoracentesis
  • Scarring of the pleural space (lining of the lung)

When should I contact a medical professional for Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion?

Call your provider if you have symptoms of pleural effusion.

Call your provider or go to the emergency room if shortness of breath or difficulty breathing occurs right after thoracentesis.



Blok BK. Thoracentesis. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 9.

Broaddus VC, Light RW. Pleural effusion. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 79.

Reed JC. Pleural effusions. In: Reed JC, ed. Chest Radiology: Patterns and Differential Diagnoses. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 4.

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Clinical Trials For Parapneumonic Pleural Effusion

There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.