Recurrent or chronic medical conditions are often demoralising and draining. However, there are ways to prevent or reduce the recurrence of certain conditions. Treatment options like a pleurodesis can help with chronic or recurrent lung conditions.

What is Pleurodesis?

There is usually a small amount of fluid within the pleural cavity, however, when there is an excess of fluid build-up, the lungs are not able to expand properly, resulting in a condition known as pleural effusion. Another condition that can affect breathing is a collapsed lung, also known as pneumothorax. Both of these conditions are life-threatening and can cause difficulty in breathing, pain, and coughing. When either of these conditions occurs, it can be corrected by a number of treatment options such as a thoracentesis or needle aspiration. However, in certain individuals, these conditions may continue to recur despite optimal therapy. This is when a pleurodesis can be performed.

A pleurodesis is a procedure that uses medicine to stick the lungs to the chest wall. This removes the space between the lungs and the pleural cavity, which reduces the likelihood of pleural effusion or pneumothorax recurring. 

How does it work?

A pleurodesis is an inpatient procedure and can be done alone or in combination with another treatment known as a thorascopy or a thorascotomy – where a small camera is used to look inside the chest or fluid/air is drained from around the lungs. 

  • General anaesthesia will be administered intravenously to prevent pain and discomfort.
  • A small incision is made (approximately 2cm) and the chest tube is inserted.
  • Fluid or air is drained out.
  • Next, doxycycline, talc powder, or another type of medication is injected into the pleural space via the chest tube.
  • The medicine will irritate the outer surface of the lungs making them sticky and causing them to stick to the chest wall.
  • This seals up the space between the lungs and the chest wall thus preventing fluid or air from building up there.
  • The chest tube is left in to help with continuous drainage. It will be removed at the end of your hospital stay after all the fluids and air have been drained and if your lungs are stuck to the chest wall.
  • After the chest tube is removed, you must keep the area clean and sterile. Change the dressing everyday as the wound will continue to drain for a few days.

The whole procedure will take about 1.5 hours and you will have to stay in the hospital for about 3-5 days. A chest x-ray will be taken to check that the lungs are stuck to the chest wall and have re-expanded. 

What happens after a Pleurodesis procedure in Singapore?

You may feel a bit groggy after the procedure, so you will be monitored for a few hours to ensure that you recover well. A chest x-ray might be performed after the procedure to ensure that no damage was done to your lungs and to ensure that your lungs have re-expanded and are stuck to the chest wall. 

What are the benefits of Pleurodesis?

  • Short procedure
  • Helps relieve symptoms of pneumothorax and pleural effusion
  • Reduces the recurrence of pneumothorax and pleural effusion
  • Minimally invasive
  • Improves quality of life
  • Successful in 70% of patients
  • Improves breathing

What are the common possible complications of Pleurodesis in Singapore?

Pleurodesis is a minimally invasive procedure in Singapore, but like all medical procedures, some risks are involved, such as:

  • Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
  • Infections
  • Empyema (build-up of pus in the pleural cavity)
  • Blood clots
  • Chest tube dislodgement
  • Failed procedure
  • Chest pains
  • Fever after the procedure

Frequently asked questions

How long is the recovery from pleurodesis?

Recovery takes approximately 5-7 days.

What happens if pleurodesis fails?

If pleurodesis fails, the procedure can be repeated.

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