Pleural Disease Treatment

Our thoracic surgeons are specially trained to treat chronic pleural effusion and mesothelioma.

Pleural effusion and mesothelioma are diseases that affect membranes in your chest. If you live with one of these conditions and need relief from breathing symptoms, our thoracic surgeons can help.

Call to schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons:


Pleural Disease Care: Why Choose Memorial Healthcare System?

When you come to Memorial for pleural effusion or mesothelioma, you’ll find:

  • Expert team: Our board-certified, fellowship-trained thoracic surgeons have specialized training and experience treating pleural disease.
  • Prompt and accurate diagnosis: We see patients quickly and perform testing in-house. This leads to treatment and relief as soon as possible.
  • Multispecialty care: We work with experts throughout the Memorial system to ensure you receive high-quality, effective, whole-person care. For our patients with mesothelioma, we collaborate with Memorial Cancer Institute doctors to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
  • Minimally invasive options: We use minimally invasive procedures whenever possible, which can lessen pain and enhance recovery. We also have options for you to get relief from chronic pleural effusion at home rather than coming to the hospital.

Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion occurs when fluid collects in the pleural space between your lungs and chest wall.  A pleural effusion can cause shortness of breath, cough and chest pain.

A pleural effusion tends to occur in people with other health conditions. Examples include congestive heart failure, renal failure, cirrhosis, malnourishment, collapsed lung, pneumonia or cancer.

Pleural Effusion Treatment

If you have chronic pleural effusions that recur after being drained, you may need surgical intervention. Memorial’s thoracic surgeons offer several interventions that:

  • Remove fluid
  • Prevent it from accumulating again
  • Help your lungs re-expand

Memorial offers the following surgeries for pleural effusion:


This surgery helps drain fluid and allows your lungs to expand again. Your surgeon removes abnormal fibrous tissue from the surface of your lung, chest wall or diaphragm.


Pleurodesis may be paired with another procedure in severe cases of pleural effusion. Our team uses a chest tube to introduce a special chemical into the chest cavity. The chemical causes inflammation and makes the layers of the pleura stick to each other, which can prevent fluid from accumulating.

PleurX Catheter

If you have chronic pleural effusions, we may insert a PleurX catheter (thin, flexible tube) to help you manage the condition at home. We teach you and your caregivers how to use the catheter to drain pleural fluid. We also ensure you have all the supplies you need.


We work closely with interventional radiologists at Memorial to provide thoracentesis. During this procedure, a radiologist uses ultrasound or CT scan to help guide a needle or catheter to remove fluid. 

Pleural Mesothelioma

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare cancer that starts in the lining of certain body tissues, most often the pleura. The condition can cause pleural effusions, chest pain, shortness of breath and trouble swallowing.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis and Treatment

If your doctor suspects you have mesothelioma, our thoracic surgeons will conduct a pleural biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. This test requires a small sample of fluid or tissue from the pleural space. We use video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS), a minimally invasive way to access the pleural cavity. Then, one of our expert pathologists examines the cells under a microscope to confirm or rule out mesothelioma.

If we confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis, we work closely with Memorial Cancer Institute to create a comprehensive treatment plan. Our oncologists and radiologists may also recommend chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy or targeted therapy.

Learn more about what to expect during thoracic surgery.

Call to schedule an appointment with one of our thoracic surgeons:


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