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Draining Fluid from Lungs

Draining Fluid from Lungs

Pleural effusion or fluid in the lungs is a serious condition in which draining fluid from lungs is accompanied by treatment for the underlying cause for such fluid accumulation. Read ahead to know more.
Ishani Chatterjee Shukla
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
The lungs act as the ventilators of the human body - they get all the fresh, oxygen rich air inside the body and expel the carbon dioxide laden air out, thereby helping provide a continuous supply of the necessary, life-sustaining gas and evacuating the body of the harmful one. Therefore, when the lungs get adversely affected by any disease, infection of disorder, the health of the entire body is put on stake as the body totally depends upon oxygen for performing a whole lot of vital processes and essential physiological functions. Pleural effusion, commonly known as fluid in lungs, is a condition wherein the pleural cavity that contains the lungs fill up with excess fluid. This puts a lot of pressure on the lungs causing various difficulties in the respiratory process. The bodily fluids that usually get accumulated inside the pleura may include serous fluids (which are usually a mixture of water and proteins and have a pale yellowish hue), chyle (which is composed of lymph and emulsified fatty acids), pus and blood.
These fluids often accumulate inside the pleural cavity as a result of leaking inside the pleura which again is a result of the left ventricular failure of the heart or as an effect of post surgical heart complications. This type of accumulation is known as transudative pleural effusion. Blood usually accumulates inside the pleura due to leakage in local blood vessels, such leakage being caused by diseases or infections of the lungs such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc. This type of fluid accumulation is known as exudative pleural effusion. Another condition, pulmonary edema, is also known as fluid in lungs but on this case, the fluid is not drained using invasive procedures. Sufficient oxygenation and appropriate medication is the usual course of action for treating pulmonary edema. Now, let's take a look at the various aspects of draining fluid from lungs and find out how it is done.
Draining Fluid from Lungs Procedure
Besides imparting treatment for the root cause of such fluid accumulation inside the pleural cavity, it becomes mandatory to drain out the fluid in order to restore the lungs' normal functionality and ease the sufferings and provide relief from respiratory difficulties. To achieve this purpose, the most common method that is adopted is using an intercostal drain or chest tube to drain out the liquid or any air that has accumulated inside the pleural cavity. A small incision is made just below the chest cavity on the side where the fluid has accumulated and one end of the chest tube is inserted through this incision inside the pleural cavity. The free end of the chest tube is fixed to an underwater seal drain and the tube and the seal are kept at a level that is lower than the chest so that any extra air or fluid flows out and collects inside the draining vessel.
A flutter valve can also be attached to the tube to act as a single-way valve to prevent any liquid or air from going back towards the body. The incision for inserting the chest tube is usually made after administering local anesthesia. All the equipment is carefully and adequately sterilized to prevent any sort of infection from this invasive procedure. The area for inserting the chest tube is first marked and cleaned with an antiseptic solution and sterile drapes are applied before the tube is inserted. This area is sutured to prevent the tube from dislodging. Once all equipment is attached and in place, a chest radiograph is taken to ascertain the exact location from where the draining is to be initiated. Only after the entire fluid is drained is the chest tube taken out as moving it prematurely can cause air accumulation in the emptied cavity.
After the fluid is drained completely, the incision wound is appropriately sealed up and dressed after cleaning it with an antiseptic solution to prevent germs from settling on the site and to avoid an infection. Draining the accumulated fluid from the pleura lifts the unnecessary pressure from the lungs, easing the respiratory process by allowing the lungs to expand adequately while inspiration. This procedure is undertaken to provide symptomatic relief alone and draining pleural fluid is accompanied by treatment of the cause behind the fluid accumulation to prevent a repeat act.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purpose only, and does not, in any way, attempt to replace the diagnosis and treatment plan of a registered medical practitioner.Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.