med 610 clinical respiratory diseases & critcare med

Pleural Effusions

Pleural effusions are one of the common problems that pulmonary physicians are asked to evaluate and manage in the course of their practice. It is therefore important to understand how to perform thoracentesis, order appropriate tests, interpret the results of those tests and decide on the appropriate management of the effusion. This webpage is designed to provide information regarding these skills. It includes :

  • Clinical cases on pleural fluid analysis
  • A link to an educational video about performing thoracentesis.
  • Access to additional educational resources on pleural fluid analysis

Clinical Cases in Pleural Fluid Analysis

Each case provides clinical scenarios and includes questions which illustrate core principles in diagnosis and management of pleural effusions.
Go to cases>>

The answers are available via a link at the bottom of each case. You are encouraged to try and answer the questions in the cases on your own before viewing the answers.

Download case document [1.4M MSWord doc]
Download answer document [1.45M MSWord doc]

On-line Tutorials in Thoracentesis

The University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine on-line training in bedside procedures:

The New England Journal of Medicine has an on-line video which describes the technique of thoracentesis: (UWNet ID required)

Additional Reading Materials


The E-reserves page that has been established for this course contains a folder of articles dedicated to the topic of the pleural space: (UWNet ID required).

Murray and Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine 4th Ed

This book contains a section on pleural disorders, which has a chapter on Pleural Effusions. It can be Clinical Key (UWNet ID required).

HuBio 541 Syllabus

The syllabus for HuBio 541 The Respiratory System contains a chapter on the pleural space which includes a discussion of pleural effusions and other disorders that affect the pleural space: (UWNet ID required)

  • Scroll down and click on "Chapter 19 The Pleural Space"

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