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Management of Pleural Effusions in the Emergency Department

[ Vol. 15 , Issue. 4 ]

Author(s):

Maria Teresa Congedo*, Gian Maria Ferretti, Dania Nachira and Mariano Alberto Pennisi   Pages 258 - 268 ( 11 )

Abstract:


Background: In symptomatic patients, admitted in emergency department for acute chest pain and dyspnea, who require an urgent treatment, a rapid diagnosis and prompt management of massive pleural effusion or hemothorax can be lifesaving.

Aim: The aim of this review was to summarize the current diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for the management of the main types of pleural effusions that physicians can have in an emergency department setting.

Methods: Current literature about the topic was reviewed and critically reported, adding the experience of the authors in the management of pleural effusions in emergency settings.

Results: The paper analyzed the main types of pleural effusions that physicians can have to treat. It illustrated the diagnostic steps by the principal radiological instruments, with a particular emphasis to the role of ultrasonography, in facilitating diagnosis and guiding invasive procedures. Then, the principal procedures, like thoracentesis and insertion of small and large bore chest drains, are indicated and illustrated according to the characteristics and the amount of the effusion and patient clinical conditions.

Conclusion: The emergency physician must have a systematic approach that allows rapid recognition, clinical cause identification and definitive management of potential urgent pleural effusions.

Keywords:

Pleural effusion, emergency service, chest pain, chest tubes, thoracentesis, ultrasonography.

Affiliation:

Department of Thoracic Surgery, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “A.Gemelli” IRCCS, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Ospedale Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, San Giovanni Rotondo, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “A.Gemelli” IRCCS, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “A.Gemelli” IRCCS, Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Rome

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