Pleurodesis: Before Your Procedure

What is pleurodesis?

Pleurodesis (say "pler-oh-DEE-sus") is treatment to keep fluid from building up around your lungs.

Normally there is some space between the outside of your lungs and your chest wall. This space gives your lungs room to expand when you breathe.

But some health problems, such as pneumonia, cancer, and heart failure, can cause fluid to build up in that space. Your lungs no longer have room to expand. It makes it hard to breathe.

To fix this, the doctor will put a tube in your chest to drain the extra fluid. Then he or she will put talcum powder or an antibiotic solution into the space between your lungs and chest wall. The powder or solution will irritate and inflame the tissues so that after several days the tissues will stick together. The space where fluid used to build up will be gone.

It takes 30 minutes or less to put in the chest tube. Then the tube must stay in place for 1 to 3 days, until the tissues stick together. The procedure can be painful, but you will get medicine to help with pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How do you prepare for the procedure?

Procedures can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for your procedure.

Preparing for the procedure

  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what procedure is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking it before your procedure. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your procedure. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the procedure and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance directive. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of the procedure?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your procedure may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of the procedure, take them with only a sip of water.
    Take a bath or shower before you come in for your procedure. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
    Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
    You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
    Inserting the chest tube takes about 30 minutes. Then you may spend a few hours in bed changing position every 30 minutes.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your procedure.
  • You become ill before the procedure (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the procedure.