Pediatric Pleural Effusions

Pediatric Pleural Effusions



Pediatric pleural effusions occur when fluid builds up in thin layers of tissue that line the lungs. This can cause chest pressure, difficulty breathing and low oxygen levels in the blood.  

Expanded Overview

The thin layer of tissue that covers the lungs and lines the chest cavity is known as the pleura. The tissue normally secretes a small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricant, helping the lungs move while breathing.

When fluid increases and builds up in the pleural space, it’s called a pleural effusion. This can cause chest pressure, difficulty breathing or a low oxygen level. The extra fluid can even push on a lung until part of it collapses. Removing the fluid allows the lung to expand, making breathing easier.


Conditions like heart failure, cancer, a lung injury or pulmonary embolism can lead to pleural effusions.


Symptoms of pleural effusions include:

  • Chest pain made worse with cough or deep breaths
  • Cough
  • Fever and chills
  • Hiccups
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath

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