What is pleurodesis?

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Pleurodesis procedure: Overview

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 drain the extra fluid through a tube in your chest. Then the doctor will put talcum powder or an antibiotic or chemical 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.

The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes. Then the tube may stay in place until the tissues stick together. The procedure can be painful, but you will get medicine to help with pain.

How can you care for yourself after a pleurodesis procedure?


  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly or lift anything heavy until you are feeling better.
  • You can do your normal activities when it feels okay to do so.
  • Check with your doctor to see when it is safe for you to start driving and when you can go back to work.


  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.


  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You also will get instructions about taking any new medicines.

Incision care

  • You will have a dressing over the cut (incision). A dressing helps the incision heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
  • If you have strips of tape on the cut the doctor made, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
  • If you had stitches, your doctor will tell you when to come back to have them removed.
  • You may shower 48 hours after the chest tube has been removed. Pat the incision dry. Don't swim or take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.

How do you prepare for a pleurodesis 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 a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your procedure. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) 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.

After a pleurodesis procedure: Overview

Pleurodesis (say "pler-oh-DEE-sus") is treatment to keep fluid from building up around your lungs. After this treatment, you should be able to breathe better and feel more comfortable.

You may have pain and feel tired. Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter medicine or give you a prescription to help with pain. You may have stitches that will need to be removed later. If you have a chest tube, follow the doctor's directions for how to care for it.

What happens on the day of your pleurodesis 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.
  • The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes. Then you may spend a few hours in bed changing position every 30 minutes.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.