The pleura is a set of thin membranes covering the lungs and lining the chest cavity that protects and cushions the lungs. Types of pleural disease include:
- Pneumothorax: a collection of air or gas in the space surrounding the lungs
- Pleural effusion: fluid surrounding the lungs
- Pleurisy: inflammation of the pleura that causes sharp chest pain
Pleurisy is aggravated by breathing or coughing. At times, pleurisy is associated with fluid in the chest cavity. Pleurisy may result from a wide variety of conditions, including acute viral or bacterial infection of the lung, damage from blood clots, tumors on the surface of the lungs, or even rib fractures.
A pleural effusion is an abnormal collection of fluid in the pleural space. Two types of pleural effusions can develop:
- Transudative effusions are usually caused by a cardiac condition, liver disease or kidney failure. The pleura itself is structurally normal. Congestive heart failure is the most common type of transudative effusion.
- Exudative effusions form as a result of a disease in the lung that causes irritation of the adjacent pleura or a problem that originates within the pleura itself. Cancer, tuberculosis, drug reactions, lung infections, asbestosis, and sarcoidosis are some of the diseases that can cause exudative pleural effusions.